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Senator Pushes for FM Activation in Smartphones
RADIO ONLINE | Monday, September 25, 2017 | 0:17am CT

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Activation of FM chips in smartphones has attracted attention in recent months with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai saying that you could make the case for doing so just on public safety grounds. Following the devastion of Hurricane Irma, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) says he's pushing for the government to require manufacturers activate FM chips, reports NBC-2 in Fort Myers, FL. A majority of the state was without power for a time and radio was the only lifeline to information.

In a recent op-ed, the South Florida Sun Sentinel blasted Apple for refusing activate FM chips in the iPhone and called on Florida's congressional delegation to take a lead in legislative action requiring mobile phones companies to activate the FM chip, citing: "Many smartphone users in the nation's third most-populous state couldn't hear the emergency alerts, storm updates and other critical information communicated after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions. Instead, we were advised to buy battery-operated radios in advance. Even if you could find and afford one, good luck finding the batteries to run them. A better answer resides in the palm of our hand."

TagStation, owner of the NextRadio app, recently inked an agreement with smartphone manufacturer LG Electronics MobileComm to enable FM chips in LG phones. The company will enable the FM chip in its smartphones going forward, providing access to local FM Radio across the U.S. and Canada.

According to Pai, "The vast majority of smartphones sold in the U.S. contain FM chips, most of them aren't activated. As of last fall, only about 44% of the top-selling smartphones in the U.S. have activated FM chips, and the percentage is lower in Canada. By comparison, in Mexico that number is about 80%."

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