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Europe Moves Towards Universal Cell Phone Charger – How Far Behind Is US?

Kathryn Siranosian | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Earlier this year, leading telecommunications companies, including Apple, Motorola and Samsung, made a commitment to start making cell phones that can be charged using a universal charger.

In Europe, that change seems to be on the fast-track now that several of these manufacturers have agreed that, beginning in 2010, all their devices sold there will use the micro USB connector, which is already the standard on handsets such as the BlackBerry.

What’s more, last month the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) gave their okay to the plan, explaining that the new universal cell phone charger will:

•    Eliminate 51,000 tons of redundant chargers, and so reduce 13.6 million tons in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year.
•    Reduce standby energy consumption by 50 percent.
•    Allow users worldwide to power up their cell phones anywhere, from any available charger.

“This is a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging, which also has the benefit of making mobile phone use more straightforward,” Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said. “Universal chargers are a commonsense solution that I look forward to seeing in other areas.”

So do I.

But, how much longer will we have to wait until cell phones sold in the U.S. come equipped with this “commonsense solution?”

In an email, Therese Van Ryne, Senior Manager on Motorola’s Global Communications team, told me that Motorola got together with the GSMA and 16 other leading mobile operators and manufacturers back in February 2009 to implement a cross-industry standard for a universal charger for new mobile phones.

“The group set a target of 2012 for this universal charging solution to be widely available in the market globally,” Van Ryne said.

A spokesperson for Samsung referred me to this press release, which contains more details about the agreement.

“Samsung seeks to actively take responsibility for the future of our environment,” said WS Lee, Vice President, R&D Planning, Mobile Communication Division, Samsung Electronics. “The universal charging solution presents a unique opportunity for our industry to bring positive benefits to the environment and also to the end-user experience.”

Watch for more from the ITU during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Barcelona this week. The organization will be stressing the significance of information and communication technologies (ICT) as a major cross-sectoral tool in reducing GHG emissions. Since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, the number of ICT users has tripled worldwide, yet the role that ICT can play in cutting emissions has been left out of the current draft text.

The ITU says that more effective use of today’s ICTs could help reduce total global emissions by 15 percent by 2020.


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  • tony greco

    I saw a universal desk top charger, with different receiver slots on top, pick two port, slot port,pin port and just plug phone in, upright. Saw thi at a Verizon store in Franklyn Square,ny,usa, has since closed…soumds like usb port is way to go.

  • Walter

    Best Buy currently offers a charging pad for small electronics. Granted a special attachment must be made to the battery compartment of the device to be charged, but I see this device as having great potential. If all manufacturers could agree on using this charging pad, they could build the necessary receiver component into their respective devices, eliminating the need to include a plug-in adapter in each package.