FCC chair wants Apple to activate iPhone FM chips after disaster

FCC chair wants Apple to activate iPhone FM chips after disaster”

Even without an internet connection, users could listen to important news and weather reports via FM radio if the chips were turned on.

But not iPhone users. "I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones". Those exhortations have been mainly directed at Apple, whose iPhone accounts for more than 40 percent of the US smartphone market. As an alternative, people could use their phones like portable radios to get access to information. Apple is the only major holdout, according to Wharton. Unlike other major smartphone vendors, though, Apple has steadfastly refused to enable support for FM, presumably because the company doesn't want free music offerings to compete with its own streaming audio service. An Apple spokeswoman said the company wouldn't comment on the matter.

"Local broadcasters are a lifeline information source in times of crisis, as Chairman Pai, Sen". Allowing people to tune in through their phones would allow them to stay informed in drastic circumstances like those recently seen in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, said Barnett, a lawyer at Venable LLP in Washington.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, also backed the effort asking Apple to activate the chips. The FM radio option comes with the Qualcomm chips installed on iPhones, and nearly every smartphone in the market. However, not all device manufacturers choose to enable the function, according to a Qualcomm spokesman.

The call was echoed by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai who said it can help get emergency information to those in need.

He wrote: "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". In Mexico, that number is 80 percent, Pai said. "I don't believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it's best to sort this issue out in the marketplace".

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

The National Association of Broadcasters says Apple' decision is denying those in danger access to critical information during and after storms, when more modern communication methods are damaged.

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