Mobile phone companies agree on universal charger for EU

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The 10 companies who control 90% of the European phone market have signed a deal which will see mobile phone chargers become universal by 2010.

The group, which includes Apple, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, LG and NEC, has agreed to a harmonisation that will see mobile phones charged by mini-USB adaptors. The move is not only good for people who have drawers full of various charges – it’s great news for the environment too.

Every year there are 185million phones sold in the EU and therefore around 185million chargers as well. The majority of these chargers become useless after upgrading to a new phone – even, in some cases, if users stay with the same brand.

The idea is that, after an unspecified time following the release of the universal charger, chargers and phones will be sold separately. The move only applies to smartphones and is only for the EU at the moment.

Hopefully, the rest of the world will follow suit soon after. They should do – not only would it save them money because they won’t have to manufacture and package chargers for every phone they sell (I can’t see them reducing the price of phones just because it ships without a charger) it will also be good for their green-credentials.

(via Reuters)

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Paul LamkinMobile phone companies agree on universal charger for EU

Mobile roaming charges slashed

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There’s good news coming out of Brussels (don’t say this to anyone who voted UKIP) regarding mobile phone roaming charges. From July the cost of using your mobile phone abroad could be slashed by a whopping 60%.

Rules drawn up by the EU mean that the costs of a text will be cut to around 10p (€0.11 to be precise) down from the usual 25p – although I know from experience O2 charges 35p.

The costs of calls has been reduced too, although the ridiculous practice that you pay for calls received as well as those made still applies – albeit with price reductions. The cost of a call made will be cut to €0.46 a minute (work it out in pence yourselves, you lazy so-and-sos) and calls received will be €0.22 a minute. These prices will be further reduced in 2010 and 2011.

The cost of web browsing is still astronomical whilst abroad though so unless you’ve got plenty of dosh, avoid this. Prices have been reduced, but only to €1 a MB, meaning a song streamed from last.fm or a video watched via YouTube is still going to cost you a few quid.

Alternatively, sign up with Vodafone’s Passport scheme and receive free roaming for three months this summer. You simply pay the usual UK charges – have a read of this post from last month for more details. Or go direct to Vodafone.

(via Digital Lifestyles)

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Paul LamkinMobile roaming charges slashed

EU starts waving around the ban-hammer at Microsoft again

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Way back in 1993, Novell made a complaint to the EU that Microsoft was indulging in anti-competitive practices. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the EU eventually decided (ten years later, in 2003) that Microsoft had to make a version of Windows without Windows Media Player available, and in 2006 hit the company with massive fines, totaling £1.07 billion.

Fast-forward to 2008, and the makers of the web browser Opera filed a similar complaint, claiming that bundling IE with Windows makes it tough for others to compete. I’m not convinced that’s true – Firefox has 20% market share – but clearly someone in the EU still has it in for Microsoft, because they’ve now filed a new complaint against Microsoft saying that IE must be unbundled.

Interestingly, a similar complaint was filed against Microsoft in the USA ten years ago, but it didn’t stick, and Microsoft still bundles IE with its operating systems. It’ll be fun to see whether the EU agrees, and could result in another massive payout. Poor Microsoft. In the meantime, I’m sticking with Chrome.

(via Mashable)

Related posts: Psystar antitrust claim dismissed by judge | Microsoft extends availability of Windows 7 beta

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Duncan GeereEU starts waving around the ban-hammer at Microsoft again

EU's knee-jerk anti-plasma campaign could lead to total ban and more sensationalist tech headlines

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Everyone knows that, in general, large TVs consume more electricity than small ones, but it seems that EU bureaucrats are just turning themselves on to the idea of banning plasma TVs because they’re not energy efficient.

The yawn-inducing title attributed to plasma sets is “the 4×4 of the living room” (I reported this over at HDTVUK two years ago) because it’s easy to lump them all together as electricity guzzlers.

Sweeping generalisations reported in the mainstream press include such gems as “they use up to four times as much electricity and are responsible for up to four times as much carbon dioxide as traditional cathode ray tube sets.” The clue is in those two words — “up to” — which, just as when applied to your flagging broadband connection, can cover a huge range of values…

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Andy MerrettEU's knee-jerk anti-plasma campaign could lead to total ban and more sensationalist tech headlines

"New Batteries Directive" could force Apple to ship European iPhone with removable battery

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Critics of Apple’s decision to ship portable devices fitted with a non-removable battery may get their way if a new European Union directive is passed.

In simple terms, the “New Batteries Directive” is supposed to ensure that the batteries in gadgets must be easily removable prior to the device being disposed of…

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Andy Merrett"New Batteries Directive" could force Apple to ship European iPhone with removable battery

Government says Phorm is phine – the spying ad software can be rolled out in the UK

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The UK government has said the incredibly controversial Phorm software can be rolled out in the UK – but users must be told first and allowed to opt-out if they wish.

The Phorm system, which anonymously tracks your internet usage so it can offer you targeted advertising, was secretly tested on a small group of BT users without their knowledge, creating uproar among the sort of people who like to create uproars about privacy issues. The EU then got involved, asking for clarification about the hows and whys of Phorm, thinking that it might be a BAD THING.

So, the UK government investigated and has decided it’s OK and that Phorm is fine. Here’s what it told the EU investigators about its Phorm phindings and how users will be put in charge of turning it on and off…

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Gary CutlackGovernment says Phorm is phine – the spying ad software can be rolled out in the UK

The European Union is investigating the Yahoo/Google ad sales deal – anti-trust action on the way?

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The EU is getting angry again – and looking daggers the way of Yahoo and Google. Transatlantic daggers. Intercontinental ballistic daggers.

The bureaucratic RAGE is thanks to the two companies and their deal to sell Google ads on Yahoo in the US and Canada – a right old stitch-up which…

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Gary CutlackThe European Union is investigating the Yahoo/Google ad sales deal – anti-trust action on the way?

EU helping reduce your Vodafone direct debit – proposes capping roaming SMS and data fees

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The EU is once again aiming its twin bureaucracy cannons at the mobile industry, this time planning a crackdown on roaming fees charged when users TXT THER M8s from holiday.

The EU, lead by a rampaging Viviane Reding, has already signalled its intentions to attack rip-off roaming fees, but now we have facts – a cap of 11 euro cents (8p) per roaming text is proposed, a 62% reduction on the current average roaming fee of 29 cents…

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Gary CutlackEU helping reduce your Vodafone direct debit – proposes capping roaming SMS and data fees