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Some Companies Promise Universal Phone Chargers



universal-mobile-phone-charger-unveiled-as-industry-gets-greener-business-guardiancoukSeveral companies have signed onto a pledge to work towards a universal phone charging solution based on the micro-USB standard.   This was announced by the GSMA at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Intriguingly, Apple isn’t one of the companies signing on yet.   Some of those those that did sign on include AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, LG, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. Also worth noting about this that the European Comission’s pressure played a role here.

This is conceived as both a plus for consuemrs and also has a green intiative, but don’t count on this happening right away, as the target is 2012, which for many is a phone or two down the road. Read the press release after the jump.

The GSMA and 17 leading mobile operators and manufacturers today announced that they are committed to implementing a cross-industry standard for a universal charger for new mobile phones. 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 resulting in an estimated 50 per cent reduction in standby energy consumption, the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers1 and the enhancement of the customer experience by simplifying the charging of mobile phones.

The group has set an ambitious target that by 2012 a universal charging solution (UCS) will be widely available in the market worldwide and will use Micro-USB as the common universal charging interface. The group agreed that by the 1st 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 who 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 or 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-star2 or higher efficiency rating, which is up to three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger3. Furthermore, with potentially 50 per cent less chargers4 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. To ensure the uptake of a universal charging solution, the operators and manufacturers who 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 educate the industry and promote the benefits of a universal charger via a targeted marketing campaign.

The initial group of companies who 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 who together are committed to making a universal charging solution a reality up to 2012 and beyond.

Supporting quotes
“3 welcomes this initiative to reduce the environmental impact of the mobile industry. 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 whilst charging. 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 75% of our handset range to be UCS compliant by the end of 2012,” said Nigel Field, General Manager, Devices and Applications, 3 Group.

“AT&T is pleased to join this industry initiative as it aligns well with AT&T’s own efforts to provider greener and simpler solutions for our customers,” said Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President, Architecture and Planning, AT&T.

“Motorola is proud to be an advocate of the GSMA’s universal charging solution,” said Dr. Bill Olson, Director, Office of Sustainability and Stewardship, Motorola Mobile Devices. “This initiative aligns very closely with our company’s commitment to create environmentally responsible products that meet consumers’ needs.”

Mitti Storckovius, Director of Environment, Devices at Nokia said: “Over the last few years, Nokia has pioneered many energy saving features, from chargers using 90% 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 contribute further in improving the industry’s environmental footprint.”

“Orange is at the forefront of bringing simplicity to its customers and actively promotes convenient and energy efficient solutions to bring this about,” said Brigitte Bourgoin, Executive VP, Head of Personal Line of Business and member of the GSMA Board of Directors. “This new approach to a charging solution is a major achievement and a significant step forward in reducing the waste and energy consumption of using mobile phones.”

“This initiative will also open the door to innovation in the operator retail presence as it is envisioned that chargers and mobile devices may be distributed separately in the near future, which will allow consumers to re-use existing chargers with other devices; reducing the overall number of chargers required. To this end the Orange ambition is that over two thirds of our sales will rely on this new charging solution,” added Brigitte Bourgoin.

“Qualcomm supports and welcomes the GSMA’s Universal Charging initiative and supports USB charging throughout its current 3G chip portfolio. The potential environmental and consumer benefits of such an initiative are compelling. Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of mobile charging, whilst making mobile usage more straightforward for the consumer, are to be applauded,” said Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Qualcomm Europe.

“Samsung seeks to actively take responsibility for the future of our environment. 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,” said WS Lee, Vice President, R&D Planning, Mobile Communication Division, Samsung Electronics.

César Alierta, Chairman of Telefónica commenting on the GSMA’s new initiative on creating a universal charger solution said: “From an environmental point of view, not only does the GSMA’s proposal for a universal charging solution address the issue of materials consumption associated with new chargers, but it encourages the Industry en masse to move towards more efficient charging technologies, thereby reducing energy wastage. Telefónica is committed to achieving this industry vision and we hope that by 2012, 75 per cent of our all new mobile handsets and chargers will comply with the universal charging solution goals.”

“The development and implementation of the universal charger solution is a step that all industry players and mobile users have been waiting for. This initiative shows the importance of the role mobile operators have in developing recommendations and pushing technology improvements for the end users. It is definitely a common interest of all telecom players to shape the industry into a more environmentally conscious and climate friendly society, and ensure about sustainable growth for the future,” said Eric F. Ekern, Director, Climate Change Programme, Telenor.

“Given the estimated eight million handsets sold in Australia every year, moving to a standard, universal charger for mobile phones has the potential to dramatically reduce duplication and waste. The proposed charger could be made available as a standalone accessory, eliminating the current requirement for a charger to be included with every new mobile phone,” said Ross Fielding, Executive Director, Telstra.

“The implementation of a standardized universal charger solution is long-overdue as its benefits are obvious on many levels, from the environmental aspects of producing a more energy-efficient product, to smoother supply logistics, to simplifying the lives of consumers. We therefore welcome the GSMA-led UCS initiative, as well as the supporting work delivered by the OMTP and offer our full commitment,” said Michael Hagspihl, Executive Vice President, Terminal Management, T-Mobile International.

“Vodafone believes in offering our customers simple, convenient, cost effective products and services. 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 universal charging solution compliant,” said Terry Kramer, Group Strategy and Business Improvement Director, Vodafone.



  1. Steven

    02/17/2009 at 3:31 pm

    Now, if we can get companies to move toward a more uniform battery. I understand smartphones/PDA phones requiring more energy, but come on. There’s gottabe a way to normalize these batteries.

  2. Stuart

    02/17/2009 at 7:06 pm

    What is amazing is that some companies DON’T want to standardize. They make money off of all those proprietary connectors. I have multiple phones by different companies and I will enjoy the day when I can use someone else’s charger when I didn’t bring mine.

  3. Daniele

    02/19/2009 at 11:24 am

    How far is the day when also netbooks (and maybe little slate tablets like the LS800) will be chargable via mini-USB? You could charge the netbook from the main computer while getting a live connection between the two!

  4. Ben

    02/19/2009 at 4:42 pm

    2012? wtf. they should just agree to use one stupid plug shape and use it in their next line of phones. 3 years is too slow. even if they standardize now, and something better comes along later, they CAN change it easily enough. man, i hate the cellular industry. what a bunch of thieves.

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