CTIA chief: Common cell phone power supply port coming to U.S.

Editor’s Note: This story is excerpted from Computerworld. For more Mac coverage, visit Computerworld’s Macintosh Knowledge Center.

By January 2012, all U.S. cell phones will have a common micro-USB interface that will allow universal external power chargers to use the port, CTIA Chairman Dan Hesse announced at a keynote at CTIA in Orlando Tuesday.

The variety of charging ports used in cell phones and smartphones today has irritated American users for years, especially as Europe moved forward on a common micro USB interface for data devices.

For many phone customers, chargers and their wires clutter desk drawers, and when they become outdated are hard to recycle.

Noting CTIA’s strong commitment to green technology, Hesse got a round of applause from thousands of attendees after announcing plans for the common charger interface.

CTIA represents nearly all the U.S. wireless carriers as well as manufacturers selling devices in the U.S. The common charger interface apparently represents an agreement across various companies, although Hesse didn’t elaborate.

Noting the applause, Hesse remarked, “It’s been a pet peeve of mine for a long time and I’m sure it’s yours too.”

The European Union in 2009 defined the Common External Power Supply for use with data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU, in an attempt to reduce waste from the number of mobile phone battery chargers.

Hesse is also CEO of Sprint Nextel, the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with about 50 million subscribers.

He didn’t reference the planned $39 billion takeover of fourth-place T-Mobile USA by AT&T in his comments. Once merged, AT&T would have 130 million subscribers, while Verizon Wireless would be second largest with about 91 million.

Sprint’s stock declined 13 percent on Monday after the AT&T takeover was announced, owing to analyst concerns that as the third largest carrier, Sprint would need to merge to stay viable or develop more low-end services.

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