Gadgets

Published on October 20th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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More Controversy About Apple’s Refusal to Use an FM Chip in iPhones

The longer the discussion about Apple’s phantom iPhone FM chip goes on, the murkier it gets. (See my coverage of the controversy here.) Now we have the Chief Technology Officer of the National Association of Broadcasters in the US has waded in with this post.

In recent months, the Southeast U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been pummeled by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  The wildfires in California have been equally devastating.  These storms and fires have wreaked havoc on communications networks and challenged public safety officials’ ability to get lifeline information to affected residents.

At a time when many Americans have come to rely on their smartphones, massive cellular outages were suffered from Texas to Florida on an even greater scale than in Superstorm Sandy five years ago, and California has also suffered major outages in key locations.  In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it may take weeks and even months to fully restore cellular service because of the damage to the electric grid.  This has been a painful reminder of the need for a redundant and pervasive communications infrastructure, especially in times of disaster and emergency.

Radio, television, cellular, satellite, and other communications networks all have a role to play in a crisis.  In the wake of these storms, a passionate discussion about activating FM radio in smartphones – and, specifically, Apple’s iPhone – has emerged. This discussion was started by those most impacted by Irma when the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorialized on the issue and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida called for activating FM chips in smartphones.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also issued a public statement calling for Apple to activate FM chips to promote public safety and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also weighed in with her support.

There has been a good bit of technical back and forth since these calls to “light up the chip,” and this is my effort to try and set the record straight.

Keep reading.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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One Response to More Controversy About Apple’s Refusal to Use an FM Chip in iPhones

  1. Ben Lawson says:

    “During the California wildfires, there have been reports about widespread problems with the wireless emergency alert (WEA) system for mobile devices”

    So the real problem is that the cell emergency alert system is crap and the Feds are trying to distract attention from that.

    I demand FM receivers in all toasters! And those damn blender manufacturers should step up too.

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