Mobile phone chargers to go universal by next year

THE first one-size-fits-all mobile phone charger should come on the market next year, bringing an end to every company providing their own unique charger.

The agreement between phone manufacturers and the European Commission will cover about 90% of phones, including all the big brands.

The move means an end to household cupboards full of chargers, most only compatible with one kind of mobile phone, and users having to get a new one every time they buy a phone.

They will all conform to new EU standards to ensure they are compatible and of a high quality and will be micro USB, Enterprise Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, said announcing a new agreement made with the industry.

“Most households have a collection of chargers that have become superfluous over time. Most can only be used with a particular mobile phone and become useless when you buy a new phone. This move will also reduce the thousands of tons of waste old chargers generate every year,” he said.

There are more than 400 million mobile phones in operation in the EU, with many people having more than one. In Italy, the country with the highest penetration, there are 1.5 phones per adult while in Ireland, according to the latest figures, there are 1.2.

Bridget Cosgrave, director general of Digital Europe representing the mobile phone industry, said they sell 180 million new phones every year so she expected that within three years every phone would have a new standardised charger.

They will be sold separately in future and the new models should be more reliable and charge more quickly than many of the current models.

The industry agreed to voluntarily produce interchangeable chargers after being contacted by the Commission. Mr Verheugen said they would have produced legislation to force the development otherwise.

The next step will be to adapt other rechargeable items such as cameras and computer laptops to work off the same charger, he said.

They are already in negotiations with companies about this but decided to go with the mobile phones first, as the others would take longer to bring to the market.

The phone companies are: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Apple, Samsung, RIM (Blackberry) Texas Instruments, NEC, LG and Qualcomm.

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