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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37 Comments

1. Derekjeter

Posts: 1492; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

FM should be a must in every device, tablet or phone.

7. lyndon420

Posts: 6790; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Couldn't agree more. The functionality is there, but it might sway customers away from Apple Music / Spotify etc... can't have that now can we?! /s

9. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1559; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

FM radio is horrible, I don't even use it in the car, doubt many people would rely on it for music.

12. lyndon420

Posts: 6790; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Yeah but it's free. Driving around the city that's all I use...a long trip is different though which warrants pulling out the CD collection. I used the FM radio in my HTC One X while at work...lasts all day.

25. southernzombie

Posts: 355; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

what the hell is a "CD?"

32. andynaija

Posts: 1259; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

Compact disc

41. southernzombie

Posts: 355; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

I'm aware. I was being facetious.

37. PSAfromThisGuy

Posts: 145; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

hahahahaha!!!! I said the same thing when I got my last car. There was a CD holder on the dashboard, and I was like "what the hell is a CD?" lololol

14. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

its not about people relying on fm radio for music.,..its about news info awareness that is the subject here...btw, i do listen to my local fm stations for music, nothing wrong with that LOL

10. Soundjudgment

Posts: 370; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

You hit the nail right on the head. If Apple loses any business.. it automatically becomes a no-go. Haha!

13. Highside

Posts: 197; Member since: Jan 31, 2017

Agreed. FM for all devices.

2. tiz_meh

Posts: 76; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Apple might charge $20 to activate fm feature lol just like years ago they charged $10 to activate Bluetooth. What a greedy company.

3. toukale

Posts: 631; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Shouldn’t the FCC already know if a phone has that part?

4. Panzer

Posts: 282; Member since: May 13, 2016

I am sure Apple is making a dongle for that. Get free radio for 49.99 plus shipping and handling. But wait there is more for another 44.99 we will include a second dongle with free shipping.

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31047; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Operators are standing by

5. darkkjedii

Posts: 31047; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Apple, do this and just call it...Courage.

8. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This was a great feature that many got away from. Verizon deactivates the FM radio in their phones (via software, they actually block it). I have a hybrid unlocked ROM on my S7 Edge, and the FM works just fine with this firmware installed. Pretty crappy on Verizon's part.

11. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Good move Pai. People who are saying fm is useless today are schmucks. It's not about trend or phasing out an old technology, it's about having something handy in times of emergency.

15. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I just went through Irma and I could've really used FM radio for some information. Every T-Mobile tower got knocked out because of power failures and there was zero communication. Irma was a very large storm that caused hurricane-force winds to persist much longer than an average hurricane due to the immense wind field. Having to go inside the car to get some form of updates while trees are falling all around is not a fun experience. The FCC already forces us to have to listen to Presidential alerts with no way of shutting them off so I'm sure they have the authority to enforce this. Radio signals belong to the government, FM capability should be built into the price of admission.

17. mikehunta727 unregistered

No FM chips at all in the past few iPhones... FCC should know this already, it's in their database

19. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Ajit Pai cannot be in a photo in which he doesn't look like a complete doofus.

20. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

For the same reason a giraffe can't be in a photo without looking like it has a long neck.

21. xfire99

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

FM Radio chip should be a must requirement on all phone devices and not only iPhone. Especially Exynos SoC which Samsung excluded FM radio chip and cant be activated after. FM radio can give important infomation in case of natural disaster.

22. Anchor

Posts: 160; Member since: Jun 16, 2017

Why did they start blocking the FM in the first place, what new technology can actually replace FM?

23. izim1

Posts: 1599; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Im pretty sure iphones never had working FM chips in them. They used "off shelf" looking broadcomm chips but werent connected hardware-wise to anything but power. Meaning no work no matter how much firmware you throw at it.

24. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

FM is going to die in a few years (see Norway).

26. izim1

Posts: 1599; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Cool story, bro but that was a government decision to switch to DAB, which is still a broadcasted service just like FM, because it is cheaper due to the landscape of Norway, not because the people dont use it. In fact, the people are complaining about it being a safety issue when millions of citizens cars wont be able to get emergency broadcasts because they dont have "HD radios". Which goes to the point of this article and this dude's request to apple. About having a way to get information to the people when cell and internet services go down. You can get national broadcasts in FM, AM, and yes even DAB, when the internet goes down.

27. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Why should Apple be forced to use FM, why couldn't people just get FM capable devices?

31. izim1

Posts: 1599; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

No one is forcing apple to use anything. Where did you even get that from? It sure as hell wasnt this article or my reply to you. No one, at any point in time, had suggested that apple should be forced to use FM. Absolutely no one. But now that you brought it up, apple should definitely be forced to use FM for exactly the same reason every other OEM should be forced, as well. Why? Because human beings are important, and having a way to broadcast information to them during a disaster, just seems like an important and decent thing to be able to do...

33. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

If FCC does not intent to force any phone manufacturers to do anything, it's OK with me. People should take care of themselves, not the state; if the state wants to broadcast stuff to people in case of natural disasters, it can install radios on the light pillars.

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