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News Worms


FCC chair wants Apple to activate iPhone FM chips after disaster

FCC chair wants Apple to activate iPhone FM chips after disaster

Update: Apple responds that the iPhone 7 and 8 models don't contain FM radio chips and don't have antennas that can support FM signals so what the FCC requests isn't possible.

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. The FCC did not immediately reply to Apple's disclosure that new phones do not have the chips.

Though it may not be obvious at first blush, most smartphones have the ability to stream local FM radio stations directly.

Do think Apple should activate the FM chip found in the iPhone?

At the heart of the matter is FM radio's place during natural disasters; though wireless service may go down, such as what happens during major storms like Hurricane Harvey, FM radio broadcasts will likely remain and give people a way to get necessary information. The company said it has included several safety solutions in its products, such as allowing users to dial emergency services and access medical ID card information directly from the lock screen of its iPhones. A week after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, more than 90 percent of cell sites are still not functioning, according to the FCC. The latter FCC actions helped clear the way for Sinclair Broadcast Group to reach a deal to acquire Tribune's stations, creating a broadcasting giant with a near-national reach. He wants the phone maker to activate the FM radio that lies dormant inside iPhones, all in the name of public safety.

Pai's statement today specifically calls out Apple as the roadblock to making FM radios ubiquitous.

"The bottom line is consumers need critical information in times of emergency", Florida Senator Bill Nelson said in a statement. "You could make a case for activating [FM] chips on public safety grounds alone", Pai writes, which sounds an bad lot like "turn on the FM radio or we'll make a rule forcing you to". "It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first".

Pai, a Republican, has been reluctant to mandate cellphone makers offer FM radio access.

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