FCC Chairman Pai and FM Radio in Smartphones

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai talked at the North American Broadcasters Association’s Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C. yesterday talking about radio and how it impacts communities. Pai talked about how radio is “Social,local,mobile, and vital” to communities. Pai then talked about how there are FM radio receivers in smartphones. Pai made an important point about smartphones, “It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.”

fm-in-smartphones-pie-chart-3q16_2-1024x576

Chairman Pai also made an appeal for the activation of these FM radio receiver chips on public safety grounds alone. Pai talked about how the FCC has an advisory panel for public safety issues that has advocated for this action to take place. “It pointed out that, “[h]aving access to terrestrial FM radio broadcasts, as opposed to streaming audio services, may enable smartphone users to receive broadcast-based EAS alerts and other vital information in emergency situations—particularly when the wireless network is down or overloaded.” “, He said. He talked about how consumers wanted to “access some of their favorite content over-the-air, while using one-sixth of the battery life and less data”. Pai spoke out at the conference for “the benefits of activating FM chips”, but also said “as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips.” He also talked about how he thinks that the FCC does not have the power to issue a mandate to phone companies, and that he said that, “it’s best to sort this issue out in the marketplace”.  He ended with talking about how as a FCC Chairman, Pai will not neglect radio and try to “modernize” radio rules and how he does not want to go into “putting my  thumb on the scale for any segment of the communications industry. Instead, I see it as my job to ensure a level regulatory playing field.”

Sources:

Official FCC Release of Chairman Pai’s Speech

National Association of Broadcasters (Where I got the graph)

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