Following a move by the European Union to force all smartphones and small electronics to use USB-C for charging instead of proprietary methods such as Lightning, U.S. lawmakers are urging the Commerce Department to adopt a similar strategy.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raymondo, Sense. Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Barney Sanders (I-VT) have called on the agency to coordinate with offices and agencies across the department to create a comprehensive trade plan that addresses the lack of a common US charging standard. Dealing with it will protect both the consumer and the environment. “
The move is aimed at Apple and the iPhone. While the letter is calling smartphones, tablets, portable speakers, and e-readers, by far the biggest device is the iPhone, which uses a lightning cable owned by USB-C. The senators noted that the average consumer owns about three mobile phone chargers, with 40 percent of consumers reporting that, at least once, they were unable to charge their mobile phones due to a lack of compatible chargers.
So they want to establish a “uniform charging accessory standard” that, if implemented, would force the iPhone to switch to USB-C. Apple already uses USB-C on most of its other devices, including the Mac and iPad, and there are rumors that even the entry-level iPad will switch to USB-C this fall. It leaves the iPhone and a handful of accessories that still use Lightning.
The senators said the policy “has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help customers who are tired of having to find a compatible charger or buy a new one through a garbage drawer filled with garbage.”
This may be a key issue as it passes through the legislature, however, as the EU is expected to enact its own USB-C rules later this year.