CTIA supports Micro-USB and 3.5mm for (future) industry-wide adoption


As anyone who follows the mobile space knows, the CTIA, aka the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, is holding its annual conference this week in San Diego. Besides serving as a stage for new wireless products and services, the CTIA Board has convened to discuss a variety of issues that affect the industry as a whole.

Perhaps the most important news to come out of the conference this week is the Board’s decision to back universal standards to “[s]implify input/output features on mobile devices.”

In particular, the Board is looking to “streamline and enhance the customer experience” through this new initiative by promoting the universal adoption of the 3.5 mm audio plug for earbuds/headphones and the micro-USB format for connecting to peripheral devices, such as chargers, laptops, and netbooks. The primary goal is to reduce “the number of audio and data connectors for the majority of new wireless devices introduced to the market after January 2012.”

The governing body, which includes representatives of Nokia, Motorola and Samsung as well as the four biggest mobile operators in the U.S. and other companies around the world, voted unanimously in favor of using the interfaces in future handsets, said Michael Altschul, CTIA’s senior vice president and general counsel.

This is not much of a surprise considering that this past April the CTIA joined GSMA in supporting a universal charging solution for mobile phones and later in June, most of the top mobile phone companies in Europe agreed to adopt micro-USB across the board. However, it is still rather significant for the CTIA as a whole to come together to support industry wide standards, both for the sake of consumers and the environment.

“This initiative builds on the wireless industry’s earlier decision to support a universal charger solution and both initiatives will ultimately provide benefits for our consumers. By simplifying input and output features on mobile devices, economies of scale will reduce consumers’ costs,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association.

But, and this is a big BUT:

the decision isn’t binding on the member companies of the board nor of CTIA, Altschul said. It’s solely a statement of support for the use of those connector types on devices introduced after January 2012. CTIA believes handset makers will start to standardize on the technologies in response to consumer preferences as well as mobile operators’ specification lists for future devices, he said.

Not to mention the technological issues that still need to be worked out:

It’s not yet clear whether Micro-USB is fast enough for transferring high-definition video, so the CTIA board left aside the question of an interface for that application.

Ultimately, while this is more of a gesture than a firm commitment (come on guys, you can do this!), it is definitely a step in the right direction. The less proprietary charging / audio adapters, the better.

[via Y! Tech]