Universal Charging Standard To Include Tablets, Cameras
The ITU has updated its standard for a universal charging solution but it looks like it’s different from the EU standard
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has modified its standard for a universal charging solution, to include a wider variety of devices and make it even more energy efficient.
The ITU, which is a specialist agency of the United Nations, gave its approval for the concept for a universal phone charger in 2009, with the aim of drastically reducing the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available.
Universal chargers also allow phone manufacturers to reduce their packaging by not including a new charger with every new phone.
A truly universal device charger
The ITU’s updated standard will enable users to charge not only their mobile phones but also other handheld devices, such as MP3 players, tablet computers, cameras, wireless headphones and GPS devices, all using a single micro-USB charger – that is, assuming the device makers all buy into the idea.
The charger also has a detachable power cable that can be used for data transfer or charging from a PC’s USB port, ridding users of the need for an additional cable.
Moreover, the ITU has specified a no-load power consumption (the amount of power used when nothing is connected) below 0.03W, which it claims is the most efficient available today. The recommended charging current has also been increased – in the range 750 to 1500 mA – so as to reduce charging time and ensure demanding devices such as smartphones can use the charger.
“Power consumption has been gradually reducing for some years, but this varies depending on manufacturer,” an ITU spokesperson told eWEEK Europe. “In 2002, many phone chargers might use about 3 watts, but by 2007 many were down to less than 0.5 watts. Some chargers are now down to 0.3 watts.”
These new measures will enable a significant global energy reduction, and meet the requirements of the Basel Convention on e-waste, the ITU said. Companies including Telecom Italia, France Telecom-Orange, China Academy of Telecommunication Research, Research In Motion, Swisscom, Belgacom, AT&T, Telefónica, TDC, Huawei, Telia Sonera and A1 Telekom Austria have already committed to the standard.
EU offers rival standard
The ITU is not the only body to have produced a universal charging standard. In December 2010, two European standards bodies – the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) – released a universal charging standard endorsed by the EU.
While the EU and ITU standards are similar, they diverge on two issues: an agreed minimum current and a detachable power cable. If the mandated output current is too low, the universal charger will not be able to charge some devices, such as smartphones.
“Other standards claim to be universal and energy efficient, but only ITU’s solution is truly universal and a real step forward in addressing environmental and climate change issues,” said ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré. “This updated standard will bring the benefits of the universal charger to a wider range of devices and consumers. The environmental impact of wide adoption will be enormous.”
Earlier this year, Steve Alder, General Manager Devices at O2 warned on the divergence between the two standards in a blog: “We urge everyone – operators, handset manufacturers and the European standardisation bodies – to firmly cooperate and commit to supporting the discussions now underway through the ITU-T,” said Alder back in February. “We need everyone to urgently get back around one table to deliver a single standard, and deliver it fast.”
In January, Nokia confirmed that its future mobile phones will have the ability to recharge using either the conventional 2mm Nokia charger or the micro USB. The company is currently piloting the idea of selling new mobile phones without any chargers at all.