FCC pushes for Apple to activate FM transmitters in iPhones following recent string of natural disasters

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Date: Friday, September 29th, 2017, 05:38
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News

Following up on renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters urging Apple to the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has stated that he hopes Apple will “reconsider its position” following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico.

Pai went on record to state that “it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first.”

The comment comes from Pai’s following full statement:

“In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I’ve specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety groundsalone.’ When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information. I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.”

Apple is the sole major phone manufacturer that has resisted activating the FM chips according to Pai.

A study by the National Association of Broadcasters last year found only 44 percent of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had FM radio capabilities enabled. 94 percent of the unactivated devices were iPhones.

At present, both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that handle every iPhone’s cellular connectivity features a a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Apple has yet to officially state why the FM radio functionality has yet to be enabled, but a spokesperson offered the following comment following queries:

Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. 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. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via MacRumors and the Federal Communications Commission

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