EU formally moves to make USB-C chargers mandatory for electronics

Originally published at: EU formally moves to make USB-C chargers mandatory for electronics | Boing Boing

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I applaud this, but I hope they go further and specify that USB-PD be part of the requirements.

Here’s how USB-C power works. A stock USB-C port is good for 0.9A of current at 5V. That’s the baseline power limit. If you speak the USB-PC protocol (over the CC lines of the USB-C conenctor) then you can ask for much more. The common values are 5V/3A, 9V/3A, 15V/3A, and 20V/3A. With a special cable, you can get up to 5A which, at the 20V level, gives you 100 Watts.

I read some of the proposal and it does seem to indicate that they’re trying to harmonize fast charging over USB-C and that makes me think they would mean USB-PD as that is the standard way of fast charging over USB-C. There are other ways to signal fast charging but none of them are a standard, they are all vendor specific. I really hope this means we don’t get stuck at the 5V/0.9A level which isn’t anywhere near what I’d consider fast charging. 5V/3A is the bare minimum for that. We’ve got some crazy phones going up to 100W of charging. Which is beefy laptop range of charging.

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Which means the entire world will benefit, thanks to the Brussels effect.

Just like the first time, when the awful chaos of proprietary chargers that plagued us all in the early mobile phone days were replaced with universal microUSB chargers thanks to the EU.

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Imagine if they did this a decade ago when micro USB was the standard. Slower data and slow charging today - download all those RAW photos and videos from your phone from your last vacation after only two days of sync’ing.

Any sort of forced standardization for this purpose requires a periodic refresh built into the regulations.

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Huh? This is the refresh of the Micro USB standard regulation, though?

As I said above, the only reason we ever ended up with micro USB as a standard was the EU. The Invisible Hand would have happily continued to sell proprietary chargers for each new model of phone so we would have to buy and rebuy official accessories and throw away perfectly good electronics on a regular basis.

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USB-C has a lot of legs to it. That connector currently tops out at 40 Gb/s (each way) and over 240W of power delivery. The advantage of specifying a connector like USB-C is that you sort of get those periodic refreshes for free as the USB group keeps updating what the connector can manage. It started out at 5Gb/s and is already up 8x from that. Power delivery started at 4.5W and is now up to 240W.

I guess I wouldn’t be too worried about outgrowing this connector in the reasonable future. But, hey, laws can be changed, so it’s not like we’re stuck with this regulation forever. I really do see this going in the right direction.

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Actually, China. Everybody wanted to sell mobiles into China and the Chinese government wasn’t down with the churn, lock-in, and e-waste of all those proprietary chargers. So they let it be known in the industry that there wouldn’t be a mobile market in China until there was a charging standard. The industry grumbled but chose micro-USB, which the EU ratified officially. But the EU was essentially endorsing a fait accompli.

FWIW, at the time I was involved in mobile phone standards work so the dinner conversations were quite illuminating.

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Manufacturers need not connect all the pins, thus ensuring that the speed never goes above 480 Mb/sec. Power delivery can similarly be restricted.

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Seems like no matter what, I’ll still have to always bring these along when I travel.
image

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’ The European Commission published its proposal to make USB-C chargers mandatory for electronic devices, standardizing the various legacy and proprietary connectors.’

Just to be contrary, the UK’s Brexit-deranged government will probably demand that all devices are fitted with a 13W round-pinned BS 372:1930 plug - assuming of course they can’t be made to run on whale oil.

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apple is Not Pleased:
Apple opposes EU plans to make common charger port for all devices - The Guardian

The European Commission has set out plans for a common charger port for all mobile phones, tablets and headphones, in the face of resistance from US tech giant Apple.

An 18-page directive released on Thursday said a common charger for all brands “would benefit consumers and reduce electronic waste”. It estimates that it will save EU consumers €250m (£214m) a year.

The directive will impose the use of USB-C ports, currently used by Android phones, for all devices. It would force Apple devices, which use lightning cables, to provide USB-C ports on its devices in EU countries.

Once the law comes into force there will be a transitional period of two years during which manufacturers must switch their devices to the common standard.

Apple has objected. In a statement it said: “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.” …

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Yeah. That’s what Apple care about.

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Either way it is regulation that got us the standard rather than the free market.

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Yes and no. A truly free market (one without players with enough power to dictate) would have strong incentives to coalesce around a standard. You saw this in the 19th century with things like nuts and bolts and increasingly in the 20th century with regards to electronic components [1]. Today there are lots of industry groups setting standards because of shared self-interest among competitors.

[1] Admittedly in both cases there was a major customer (US military) encouraging standardization. JEDEC, where I spent a decade, was originally the Joint Electron DEvices Counsel in my father’s day.

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Assume a frictionless vacuum.

And spherical sheep of course.

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Hell, Douglas Adams wrote his prescient rant about a bunch of different proprietary charger standards for electronic gadgets back in 1999. At least they’re mostly all using the same voltage now.

https://douglasadams.com/dna/980707-03-a.html

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Oh, absolutely. Just like every other massive multinational, multi-death corporation. capitalism cares.

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For different values of “innovation”.
The value of “innovation” here is the one that means “proprietary gouging”.

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Oh, come on! It falls down the moment they assume rational human beings. :wink:

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indeed. i figure an unregulated market ( which is what people seem to mean when they say free market ) would probably have given us either at&t or ibm as the sole computer communications company

we’d be renting our green screen machines from ma ibm just like we used to have to rent telephones. and probably wouldn’t have gotten to faxing documents yet, since they also prohibited any and all unauthorized use of the lines

maybe competition between markets ( eu, us, etc ) might have gotten us somewhere?

at any rate, interoperability of plugs and devices seems like a win. especially for engineers. who really wants to be focused on making dongles as a career? people have got better things to do than that

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