CTIA backs universal cell-phone charger

The U.S. mobile group now supports a push for a shared Micro-USB charger in 2012

CTIA, the main industry association for U.S. mobile operators, has put its weight behind an initiative calling for a universal cell-phone charger.

The GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association) and 17 manufacturers and carriers announced the push at the Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona. The plan is to rally around a global charger specification that uses the Micro-USB interface to connect with handsets and uses 50 percent less power in standby mode. By Jan. 1, 2012, a majority of all new mobile phone models will support the new charger, the group pledged.

The Universal Charging Solution would simplify consumers' lives by letting them buy one charger and keep using it when they buy new phones. As a result, it would eliminate an estimated 51,000 tons of duplicate chargers, according to the system's backers.

CTIA counts among its members the main U.S. mobile operators and many key IT and cellular vendors, including Motorola, Research in Motion, Cisco Systems and Apple. The organization lobbies for the industry and organizes two big annual trade shows.

The OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform) group selected Micro-USB as the standard connector for charging in 2007. This interface is similar to the Mini-USB system used in the Motorola Razr and many BlackBerry models, but thinner. It's already used in a number of models, including the BlackBerry Storm and Curve 8900 and phones from HTC.

Handset manufacturers have prevented standardization of phone chargers in the past because they wanted to make money from proprietary accessories, either through licensing deals or by selling the gear themselves, according to Avi Greengart of Current Analysis.

Most of those accessories businesses haven't been profitable, so the vendors are now rallying around the universal charger, he said. The shrinking of handsets created another incentive to adopt a new, more compact interface, and standardization can cut the cost of doing so.

"Why try to build your own version if you can get together with the rest of the industry?" Greengart said.

The vendors lined up for the GSMA announcement included Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Qualcomm and Sony Ericsson. Operators included AT&T, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Telefónica.

While a standard charger will help consumers and the environment, it will also benefit carriers, according to Greengart. If they sell phones with different types of interfaces, they need to have many types of accessories available in their stores.

"Right now, it's an inventory nightmare," Greengart said.

One vendor that's unlikely to get behind the initiative is Apple, he believes. Its accessory business is highly successful, with many licensed third-party vendors using the familiar, proprietary iPhone and iPod docking interface in their products.

If Apple does include Micro-USB in a future iPhone, it will probably be in addition to the existing dock link, he said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Micro-USBmobile phonesctiaUSBpower charger

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?