ITU approves universal mobile phone charger

At last Universal cell phone chargers are coming soon. It will work with any handset which has been approved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body.

The first thought to many is that a universal phone charger will drastically reduce the inconvenience of having to scrounge around for the right charger when they forget or lose it. There is a secondary and perhaps even bigger benefit: The story says that universal chargers could lead to a 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption and cut as many as 51,000 tons of redundant chargers. Not manufacturing those chargers would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 million tons.

“This is a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging,” said Malcolm Johnson, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau.

“Universal chargers are a common-sense solution that I look forward to seeing in other areas.”

The new chargers will use a micro-USB plug, similar to that used for digital cameras, to enter the cell phone for charging, said Sarah Parkes, spokeswoman for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Some manufacturers may also allow the cable to be disconnected from the adapter at the plug-in end and inserted into a computer through a USB port instead. The power from the computer, however, would be smaller than from a wall socket and would take longer to charge a phone.

Some manufacturers already are using the new system, said Parkes. A number of companies have signed on to the new deal either with the ITU or earlier with the European Union.

Manufacturers won’t legally be required to use the new standard, but in practice holdouts from ITU standards are rare, she said.

“We are planning to launch the universal charger internationally during the first half of 2010,” Aldo Liguori, spokesperson for Sony Ericsson told the BBC.

“We will roll it out with new products as they launch.”

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