Sunday February 19, 2017

FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of FM Radio Receiver Built into Smartphones

While Ajit Pai will not be doing much about it (i.e., establishing a government mandate) because he is all about free markets, the FCC chairman thinks that smartphone makers should let people listen to FM radio over the air instead of forcing them to use streaming apps, which require Wi-Fi or cellular data. It is estimated that 44% of devices include FM chips but do not have them activated, and the majority of these are iPhones. Pai argues that FM radio is relevant for public safety, but is this really something to get fussed about?

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Pai cited a NAB study that found only 44% of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had activated FM receivers as of last year. The vast majorityآ—94%آ—of the non-activated smartphones are iPhones, according to the study. "We could be doing a lot better," said Pai, who was appointed as FCC chairman last month. "It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman." The activation of FM receivers in iPhones would have several benefits, including battery life savings, less data usage, and most importantly, the ability to receive emergency alerts over radio without service.