One plug to power them all

17 Feb 2009

The mobile phone industry has agreed to create a single charger for all new mobile phones by 2012.

The aim of the initiative, led by the GSMA, is to ensure that the mobile industry adopts a common format for mobile phone-charger connections and energy-efficient chargers, which will result in an estimated 50pc reduction in standby energy consumption, the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers and the enhancement of the customer experience by simplifying the charging of mobile phones.

The initial group of companies which have joined the GSMA’s UCS initiative include 3 Group, AT&T, KTF, LG, mobilkom austria, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone – some of the world’s largest mobile operators and manufacturers, all of which have expressed their commitment to making a universal charging solution (UCS) a reality up to 2012 and beyond.

The group has set an ambitious target that by 2012 a UCS will be widely available in the market worldwide, and will use Micro-USB as the common universal charging interface.

“By working together, the mobile industry can make a significant difference to the number of chargers produced, shipped and lying around our homes and offices, along with the amount of energy consumed while charging,” said Nigel Field, general manager, Devices and Applications, 3 Group.

“It can only make the whole process of charging up a mobile much more consumer-friendly, and 3 will work with our handset partners to target 75pc of our handset range to be UCS compliant by the end of 2012,” he said.

The GSMA-led group agreed that by the 1 January 2012, the majority of all new mobile phone models available will support a universal charging connector, and the majority of chargers shipped will meet the high efficiency targets set out by the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform), the industry body that developed the technical requirements behind UCS.

“The mobile industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling environmental issues, and this programme is an important step that could lead to huge savings in resources, not to mention convenience for consumers,” said Rob Conway, CEO and member of the board of the GSMA.

“There is enormous potential in mobile to help people live and work in an eco-friendly way, and with the backing of some of the biggest names in the industry, this initiative will lead the way.”

A universal charger will also make life much simpler for the consumer, who will be able to use the same charger for future handsets, as well as being able to charge their mobile phone anywhere from any available charger. UCS chargers will also include a 4-star or higher efficiency rating, which is up to three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger.

Furthermore, with potentially 50pc less chargers being manufactured each year, the industry can expect to reduce greenhouse gases in manufacturing and transporting replacement chargers by 13.6 to 21.8 million tonnes a year.

Mitti Storckovius, director of environment at Nokia’s device division, said: “Over the past few years, Nokia has pioneered many energy-saving features, from chargers using 90pc less energy to alerts reminding people to unplug chargers.

“By supporting this industry initiative on common charging solutions, and enabling consumers to choose if they need a charger with every new device or can re-use existing ones, we can further contribute to improving the industry’s environmental footprint,” Storckovius said.

To ensure the uptake of a UCS, the operators and manufacturers which have partnered with the GSMA to launch this initiative are working alongside the OMTP to roll out the new solution in order to meet the targets set for 2012.

The initiative will also work with the wider operator and manufacturing communities to secure global participation and commitment, as well as to educate the industry and promote the benefits of a universal charger via a targeted marketing campaign.

“Vodafone believes in offering our customers simple, convenient, cost-effective products and services,” said Terry Kramer, group strategy and business improvement director, Vodafone and member of the GSMA board of directors.

“The provision of a universal charger meets these requirements. In addition, this initiative is in line with our overall environmental programme, as the universal chargers will be highly energy-efficient and will therefore reduce the carbon waste.

“Ultimately, it will mean that our customers do not have to replace their charger with each device upgrade. This makes life easier for them and is good for the environment. We estimate that by 2012, the majority of new mobile phones will be UCS compliant,” Kramer said.

By John Kennedy