NAB Wants Cell Providers to Activate Radio Chips

According to a NAB ad in Thursday's edition of the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, the recent earthquake and hurricane on the East Coast have highlighted the shortcomings of cellphone networks in handling huge volumes of calls simultaneously. Many broadcasters are encouraging the cell phone industry to help overcome the public safety vulnerability of its network by voluntarily activating radio chips.

When the East Coast was recently struck by a devastating hurricane, the government's top official charged with protecting American lives during emergencies recognized radio's importance during this crisis. "Local TV and radio are... one of the best sources of information from those local officials during the crunch time of evacuation," said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps at a workshop on network reliability and outage reporting said it was time for a discussion on equipping mobile handsets with FM receivers. "So we share a duty to think creatively about how we can arm consumers with additional ways to communicate during disasters. While it may be somewhat beyond the scope of today's meeting, I'd raise just one example. I think the time is here for a thorough, calm and reasoned discussion about FM chips in handsets."

NAB notes that whether it's a hurricane, tornado, snowstorm or simply a power outage, radio is a lifeline in times of emergency by connecting people to the information they need to stay safe. And even when cell phone and wireless networks go down, radio works. If cell phones were equipped with radio receivers, NAB'a ad continued, millions of Americans could get instantaneous emergency information wherever they are.


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