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A universal charger for mobile phones
ITU group considers the energy-saving proposal
A universal charger for mobile phones
photo credit: Shutterstock
The need for multiple chargers could soon be at an end

How information and communication technologies (ICT) can combat climate change — and efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of ICT themselves — are among the topics of work by Study Group 5 of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T). On the agenda of its meeting on 25–29 May 2009 was a practical proposal that would help reduce the amount of energy needed to charge mobile phones — and cut the clutter of unnecessary equipment.

The trade body for the mobile phone industry, the GSM Association (GSMA), had asked for ITU’s support in promoting a “universal charging solution” for handsets, based on Micro-USB as the common universal charging interface. The request was positively received and the study group will work on adopting the solution as an ITU–T Recommendation.

The proposal is that an energy-efficient charger should be developed that is compatible with any type of mobile phone. GSMA estimates that this would result in a 50-per-cent cut in the energy consumed when chargers are left on standby. It also means that people will not have to buy another charger when they buy a new handset. This would eliminate the need to manufacture 51 000 tonnes of duplicate chargers each year: equal to a reduction of 13.6 million tonnes in greenhouse-gas emissions.

There will also be a big boost to convenience, says GSMA. Consumers will be able to keep using the same charger for handsets produced in future, as well as power up their mobile phones wherever a universal charger is available. The 17 leading makers and operators that launched the project in February 2009 agreed that, by the start of 2012, most of their new handsets will be compatible with the universal charger, which they expect to see for sale worldwide.

Study Group 5 was given a new mandate in April 2009 and the title “Environment and Climate Change”. One of its main tasks is to follow up activities of the Focus Group on ICT and Climate Change, which ended its work in March 2009 (see ITU News of April 2009).

The questions that will be considered by Study Group 5 include coordination and planning of standardization related to ICT and climate change; collecting data on energy efficiency over the lifecycle of ICT equipment, and the recycling of ICT equipment and facilities. In addition, it remains the lead Study Group on environmental aspects of electromagnetic phenomena.


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