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EU sets standard for mobile-phone chargers

Harmonisation bodies release new guidelines

The days of emailing the whole office to ask if anyone has a mobile-phone charger that fits your phone are numbered, as European standardisation bodies on Wednesday released harmonised standards for a common charger.

The move is the latest in the European Union's plans to introduce a global common mobile-phone charger, sparing business travellers in particular the frustration of being unable to find a suitable charger as their phone battery runs out.

The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have released the standards for interoperability needed for the manufacture of data-enabled mobile phones compatible with a new common charger. The compatibility will be on the basis of Micro-USB connectors. The new standards take into account safety risks and electro-magnetic emissions and ensure that common chargers have sufficient immunity to external interference.

As well as inconvenience for consumers, incompatibility of chargers is also a considerable environmental problem as users who change their mobile phones must usually acquire a new charger and dispose of the old one.

"Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste and benefit businesses. It is a true win-win situation," said Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani.

In 2009, 14 leading mobile-phone producers - Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile (ALCATEL), Texas Instruments and Atmel - agreed to work toward harmonisation for chargers for data-enabled mobile phones.

The European Commission expects the first common chargers and mobile phones compatible with the new standards to reach the European market in early 2011.

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