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FCC wants Apple to activate FM chips inside the iPhone after disaster strikes

FCC wants Apple to activate FM chips inside the iPhone after disaster strikes
FCC chairman Ajit Pai called on Apple today to turn on FM radio chips found inside older iPhone models. The head of the top communications regulatory agency in the states, Pai says that activating the chips could allow Americans to gain access to life-saving information when a hurricane or earthquake wipes out wireless networks. According to Pai, Apple is the only major smartphone manufacturer who has yet to activate these chips.

However, in a statement, Apple said that the 2016  models (Apple iPhone 7 and Apple iPhone 7 Plus) and the 2017 variants (Apple iPhone 8, Apple iPhone 8 Plus and the Apple iPhone X do not employ FM chips. In addition, Apple says that these models do not feature antenna that will support FM signals. As a result, Apple says that "it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products." It isn't clear whether Apple will activate the FM chips found on earlier iPhone models that pre-date the iPhone 7.

The FCC itself is not clear on whether it has the authority to demand that companies activate the FM chips inside their handsets. And while the FCC has not commented on Apple's statement about the lack of FM chips inside its newer models, chairman Pai said that "I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria."

Cell towers can be destroyed in natural disasters which would make FM transmissions a great back up system. The recent series of hurricanes left 90% of Puerto Rico's cell towers down while 67% of the towers in the U.S. Virgin Islands are not working. In those regions, activating FM chips inside handsets could be the only way to get important information disseminated to a scared and shaken public.

source: Reuters

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