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CTIA Sets Voluntary Standards

Washington D.C. – CTIA-The
Wireless Association is encouraging further standardization of inputs and
outputs on cellular phones, following up on its previously announced support
for the industry’s Universal
Charging Solution
(UCS) for cellphone chargers.

“The adoption of common interfaces for input/output features extends the
consumer-friendly and environmentally focused universal charger solution that
the wireless industry announced in April 2009,” CTIA said. The recommendations,
which are voluntary, will also simplify life for consumers and retail stores,
which could stock fewer accessory SKUs, CTIA general counsel Michael
told TWICE.

The initiative was lauded by FCC chairman Julius Genachoswki.

In its recommendations, the association called on handset makers
to adopt microUSB for data transfer to PCs and other devices, including USB dongles. For attaching hands-free and stereo
headsets, the association recommended the use of microUSB or a 3.5mm mini plug.
The UCS solution is also microUSB-based, requiring chargers connect to
cellphones via microUSB connection.

The recommendations don’t preclude handset makers from using WiFi
or Bluetooth for data and audio functions, Altschul noted.

Though microUSB supports data transfer, the CTIA is not including
HD video in its voluntary commitment, Altschul said. “There was uncertainty
over whether microUSB throughput would be sufficient to support HD video, so
our voluntary commitment doesn’t extend to HD Video.” The CTIA will “revisit”
the HD video question as technologies develops further, he said.

Under CTIA’s initiative, handset makers supporting the
voluntary standards would:

use the USB
Micro-B receptacle for charging and data transfer and the 3.5mm mini plug for
audio input/output for the use of earbuds/headphones and microphones.

use the USB
Micro-AB receptacle for charging and data transfer and the 3.5 mm mini plug for
audio input/output.

use the USB
Micro-AB receptacle for charging, data transfer, and acting as a host to USB digital headsets.

Micro-B and Micro-AB receptacles connect to any PC, laptop or USB dongle, Altschul said.

Apple was a participant in the working group that developed the
recommendations, and “Apple voted for it,” Altschul noted, but the CTIA
executive said he isn’t privy to any plans by Apple to incorporate microUSB in
future products. Apple’s iPhone uses a proprietary multipin connector for
tethered data transfers as well as for docking the phone with iPod/iPhone
tabletop music systems.