FCC said FM on phone will be useful during disasters as they would operate even when the cellular network is down and can relay vital information related to safety.
The FCC wants Apple to turn on the FM radio that exists on their iPhone devices. This is to ensure the phones are able to receive life-saving information that is relayed during times of natural calamities.
Most smartphones currently in use come with integrated FM chips though unfortunately, not all of them are functional. That again is a deliberate ploy on the part of the device manufacturers as doing so will provide owners with a means of listening to the songs they like, and that too, completely free of cost. That again would nullify the companies’ efforts in pushing forward their own subscription based online music channels.
However, the good thing here is that most other manufacturers have complied with the FCC request. Those include the biggies in the business such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and such. Apple though continues to be the most notable exception in the list.
The Cupertino giant, in its defence, has said the most recent of their iPhone device don’t have the FM chips integrated in them.
And they don’t need them either given that they have other safety features built into them that negates the benefits of having FM radio in the first place. Those include the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. Apple also remained non-committal on their approach with the iPhone devices launched prior to iPhone 7.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai said they are loathe to bring forth a regulation that would make its mandatory for phone manufacturers to include FM in their devices. Pai said that would make it seems as against the ethos of free-market policies.
Instead, Pai said he is just suggesting the phone makers to include FM in their handsets in the greater interest of security and safety of American citizens. The country has recently been plagued with natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria. And each has left behind them a trail of destruction both to life and property that would take years to recover.
Also, during such large-scale disasters, cellular tower are often among the first to be hit, bringing down networks in its wake. However, propagating radio signal are relatively easier during such times and can be effectively used to guide survivors to safety.
The biggest carriers in the US too have backed the efforts of the FCC on this, and are also keen to see manufacturers activate FM on their devices. The onus now is on the manufacturers, or more specifically Apple that is among the biggest names out there to be following the opposite trend so far.