Last week, SemaConnect and Blink announced a new interoperability agreement. EV drivers were excited, for good reasons! However, the idea of interoperability between EV charging companies and EV charging networks can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know about interoperability, roaming, and SemaConnect.

What is interoperability?

Essentially, interoperability agreements are communications agreements. Over the last ten years, as the electric vehicle market has grown, many electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) companies have designed their own station software and charging networks. However, with so many EV chargers on the market, it can be cumbersome for drivers to carry ten different charging cards or mobile apps just so they can charge their vehicles. That model is not user-friendly.

The best electric car charging stations are networked and use OCPP 2.0, an open source software protocol that allows communication between different networks. That means that if Company A and Company B both use OCPP, they can sign an agreement that allows drivers to use Company A’s mobile app at Company B’s charging stations. It’s a better driver experience, and it makes EV charging less confusing for new drivers.

Another important benefit of OCPP and smart charging stations: the ability to switch networks. Earlier in the charging industry, there were more charging station providers who later exited the market. Unfortunately, once their proprietary networks stopped supporting their charging stations, many of their clients were left in the cold. With OCPP, if a station owner needs to switch to a new network provider, they have that ability. The OCPP-enabled station and OCPP-enabled network can communicate.

What interoperability means for SemaConnect

There are a few ways that SemaConnect is interoperable with other networks. The first is through charging maps. EV drivers can get directions to nearby SemaConnect charging stations by searching “EV charging station” or “electric car charging station” on Google Maps and Apple Maps. This feature, first introduced in 2018, shows users the type of plug and number of available charging stations. Want to use the same app to find a charging station and start charging? Try PlugShare or ChargeHub. SemaConnect was the first charging company to offer Pay With PlugShare as a payment option in 2013, and it remains one of the most popular ways to start charging. On both websites and mobile apps, drivers can search by plug type or charging network, leave comments for other drivers, or start charging.

SemaConnect is also interoperable with several other EV charging companies. We’ve signed interoperability agreements with EVgo, Electrify America, and now Blink. These agreements allow (or will allow, in the case of Blink) drivers to roam between charging networks without needing separate memberships.

Interoperability agreements and open networks are core to SemaConnect’s identity. We believe that allowing drivers to roam between charging apps or allowing drivers to charge, even without a SemaConnect membership, helps make charging easier. Together, we’re making the EV charging experience even better for our customers and drivers.

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