FCC chairman tells Apple to turn on iPhone's FM radio chip

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FCC chairman tells Apple to turn on iPhone's FM radio chip

Apple has once again been urged to enable the FM radio transmitter in iPhone handsets following the spate of devastating hurricanes during the 2017 season.

"Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted" supporting FM, Pai concluded.

Pai made his appeal in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have wreaked havoc on communities across the U.S. and beyond in recent weeks.

Apple has as yet not responded to the renewed push for it to comply.

While FCC action has been ruled out for the time being, it's undeniable that FM-radio waves are one of the most effective ways of distributing information to the public in an emergency. Phone makers had previously kept silent about the chips because it encouraged users to spend money for extra bandwidth for streaming music instead of tuning in to the local FM radio station. The company said it has included several safety solutions in its products, such as allowing users to dial emergency services and access medical ID card information directly from the lock screen of its iPhones.

Two of the photos in a powerful recent photo essay from The Atlantic, for instance, depict Puerto Ricans gathering around the island's few remaining working towers, struggling to get a signal. As an alternative, people could use their phones like portable radios to get access to information. The National Association of Broadcasters is also onboard with the requests. The four major wireless companies in the United States have all started to allow phones to be shipped with activated FM chips.

And Pai isn't alone in his calls for Apple to enable support for FM in the iPhone. "And I've specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so", FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

"It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first", Pai said.

"Broadcasters are providing information on how to evacuate quickly, where flood waters are raging, how to get out of harm's way if there's a tornado or a hurricane", Wharton said.

Though some high-end phones still offer FM radio support, that is becoming increasingly uncommon.

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