It was way back in summer of 2009 that Nokia, Apple, RIM, and the rest of the mobile world agreed to make micro-USB the connector around which all future European chargers would be built. Since then, most of those companies have transitioned their hardware to micro-USB without further prompting, but the European Union is still pushing ahead with a universally compatible charger standard to make sure everything is nice and harmonized. The details of what's expected of these chargers were published in December and now the first samples of the new hardware have been produced. The EU expects all manufacturers to have chargers adhering to the new guidelines by the end of 2011 -- and if you're wondering about how Apple, one of the signatories to this agreement, will handle it, there's a note to say that adapters will be allowed on phones without a micro-USB port. Full press release after the break.
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Brussels, 8 February 2011

Manufacturers deliver the common mobile phone charger

Have you ever been annoyed for not being able to borrow a friend's or a colleague's mobile phone charger because it wasn't compatible with your phone? This era is coming to an end. A common charger compatible with mobile phones of all brands is the simple idea that the Commission has been pushing for many years. Thanks to the cooperation between fourteen companies and the European Commission the solution is there: onechargerforall.eu. New technical standards for data-enabled mobile phones were published on 29 December 2010. Today, Vice President Antonio Tajani receives a sample of a compatible common charger from Bridget Cosgrave, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE, the largest Association of European digital technology industry.

"I welcome the roll out of new chargers for mobile phones based on the new EU standard. This is genuine good news for the European consumer. Now we await the arrival of the new charger and compatible mobile phones on the shelves. I urge industry to speed up their introduction in the market to enable citizens throughout the EU to enjoy the advantages of a common charger as soon as possible" said European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.

Today marks the start of an implementation process triggered by the European Commission. The support of the Commission has enabled manufacturers to deliver this benefit to European consumers in a relatively short period of time. The EU has achieved the common charging solution using a common-sense approach that benefits everyone - without the need for any new regulation. The European Commission will work with industry so that European consumers can profit from the initiative as soon as possible.

The publication of the standards in December 2010 means that mobile phone manufacturers can now proceed with required design and testing changes for chargers ensuring compatible phones are safe and interoperable. Compatible data-enabled mobile telephones of different brands can now operate with the same common charger – a big step forward for mobile phone users. The fourteen manufacturers have agreed to introduce the new common mobile phone chargers onto the European market in the course of 2011.

The common charger is a tangible proof of how standardisation can facilitate the life of Europeans. Standardisation is one of the key elements that the Commission promotes to untap the potential of the Single Market, as put forward in the Annual Growth Survey of January 2011.

Background

Incompatibility of mobile phone chargers causes not only inconveniences for users, but is also an important environmental issue in the European Union. Mobile phone users who wish to replace their mobile phones are often required to purchase a new charger, regardless of the condition of the existing one.

Following a request from the European Commission, fourteen major mobile phone manufacturers agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to harmonise chargers for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU. The MoU signatory companies include Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile (ALCATEL mobile phones), Texas Instruments and Atmel.

Following a mandate from the European Commission, the European Standardisation Bodies CEN-CENELEC and ETSI issued the harmonised standards to be adhered to by data-enabled mobile phones compatible with the new common charger as of 2011. The common charger solution is based in the Micro-USB connector technology. For phones that do not have a Micro-USB interface an adapter is allowed under the Memorandum of Understanding.

The agreement covers data-enabled mobile phones, i.e. those that can be plugged into a computer to exchange for example pictures, files and music. Data-enabled mobile phones are already predominant on the market. So called smartphones are a segment of data-enabled mobile phones.

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European Union's 'One charger for all' starts sampling, coming this year