EUROPHON-1 Standard Announced
The first details of the new EU regulation
499/2005 "Safety of Portable Personal Transmission
Devices" have been announced by the European Union's
legislature office. The document seen by Mobile Gazette
runs to some 104 pages, mostly in fairly inpenetrable
EU bureaucrat-speak. However, we have picked out a few
key details that mobile manufacturers will have to adhere
to from the beginning of 2006 for the proposed standard
major change is the keypad layout. According to EU Deputy
Commissioner Avril Fischer: "it is important
to normalise and harmonise functional button arrangement
standards across diverse application platforms in the
interests of health and safety and general educational
standards". What this means in practice is
that mobile phone keypads for new handsets sold in the
EU must be rearranged, to conform to a layout closer
to that of a PC's numeric keypad - i.e. starting with
789 at the top rather than 123. In addition, the "0"
key is offset one place to the left. The arrangement
of all other keys in the layout is up to the manufacturer.
(See image on the left for a closeup).
In addition all keys must now be labelled
in both Latin ("abc") and Greek ("αβγ")
characters, a feature that will be familiar to many
people from Euro Banknotes. EU 499/2005 also makes provision
to add Cyrllic character in the event that they are
needed (presumably if ever Russia, Ukraine, Belarus,
Serbia or Bulgaria ever join the EU). Importantly, EU
499/2005 says that these additional letters are mandatory,
so manufacturers will just have to find the space to
Although these new keypad arrangements
are a pain, most people will probably get used to them.
It should still be possible to import handsets with
the old fashioned "123" arrangement from outside
the EU for those who find that they cannot adapt.
There are important changes with regards
to in-car use too. Again, Deputy Commissioner Fischer
(pictured right) is quoted: "Research across the European Union
has shown that mobile cellular transmission equipment
of this type is a major hazard when in use in a motor
vehicle." As a result, it will be illegal to
use a mobile phone "held in the hand, or connected
through a conductive or optical cable, or a subtransmitter
using any part of the radio spectrum, or via a remote
microphone and loudspeaker combination". This
means that it will no longer be possible to use a Bluetooth
headset or car kit, any sort of "traditional"
inbuilt car kit, or to hold the phone in your hand or
use a standard wired earpiece/microphone.
These changes to in car use are all
very well, and we especially agree with the Europe-wide
ban on driving while holding a phone in your hand, but
these other regulations seem excessive. We do notice
that there might be a loophole for infra-red based equipment
though given the current wording.
Our opinion: this is clearly
a case of the European Union gone mad - we don't believe
that there has been any proper consultation on these
proposals, the EUROPHON-1 standard keypad just plain
sucks, and people used to using their handsfree kit
in their cars safely are likely to be really angry about
What you can do: we understand
that this legislation is still awaiting final sign-off
by the Commission President. What you should do NOW
is spread awareness of this problem, and let everyone
know what the EU is up to! Click
here to find out more!
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