IPhone FM radio chips need to be activated for safety says FCC

Ajit Pai Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission testifies before a Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington

Ajit Pai Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission testifies before a Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington

The FM radio has always been absent from most smartphones but lately, it seems as though more and more manufacturers are enabling the FM radio chip in their devices.

Pai could easily order Apple's compliance, but he has refrained from doing so because he understands that free market is involved.

Now after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria tore through parts of the United States and the Caribbean, broadcasters are taking another opportunity to push Cupertino to rethink its stance. Back in 2014 the National Association of Broadcasters released a report questioning the absence of FM radio on iPhone, and then as now, Apple declined to comment.

"In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in nearly all smartphones sold in the United States".

Do think Apple should activate the FM chip found in the iPhone? While FM Radio isn't used regularly by most users nowadays, it's still being widely used for many different purposes. "Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts". As an alternative, people could use their phones like portable radios to get access to information. A week after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, more than 90 percent of cell sites are still not functioning, according to the FCC.

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Earlier this year, the FCC voted 2-1 to reverse a 2016 decision that limits the number of television stations some broadcasters can buy. "That's why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones".

And Pai isn't alone in his calls for Apple to enable support for FM in the iPhone.

Pai, a Republican, has been reluctant to mandate cellphone makers offer FM radio access. The FCC chief's framed the activation of the FM radio chip as a boon to public safety, since FM radio signals are generally easier to receive in times of emergency when compared to Internet-based services provided over a cellular network.

"It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first", he continued.

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