EU urges smartphone makers to drive common ‘charger’ for all

9 Feb 2011

The European Commission said today that its dream of a common mobile phone charger for all by the end of this year is tantalisingly close and that 14 major manufacturers, including Nokia, Apple and Samsung who have signed up to the plan, must speed up their rollout.

Technical standards for data-enabled mobile phones – aka smartphones – using the new common charger were published on 29 December last and today the head of the European digital technology industry association DigitalEurope Bridget Cosgrave provided a sample to European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani, who is responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.

Following a request from the European Commission, 14 major mobile phone manufacturers agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to harmonise chargers for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU. The MoU signatory companies include Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LG, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile (ALCATEL mobile phones), Texas Instruments and Atmel.

The common charger solution is based in the Micro-USB connector technology. For phones that do not have a Micro-USB interface, such as the Apple iPhone, an adapter is allowed under the MoU.

Charge ahead, EU tells phone makers

“I welcome the roll out of new chargers for mobile phones based on the new EU standard,” Tajani said. “This is genuine good news for the European consumer. Now we await the arrival of the new charger and compatible mobile phones on the shelves.

“I urge industry to speed up their introduction in the market to enable citizens throughout the EU to enjoy the advantages of a common charger as soon as possible” said Tajani.

The publication of the standards in December 2010 means that mobile phone manufacturers can now proceed with required design and testing changes for chargers ensuring compatible phones are safe and interoperable.

Compatible data-enabled mobile telephones of different brands can now operate with the same common charger – a big step forward for mobile phone users. The 14 manufacturers have agreed to introduce the new common mobile phone chargers onto the European market in the course of 2011.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years