FCC Chairman Pai encourages activation of Apple iPhone’s built-in FM radio chip

“FCC chairman Ajit Pai has advocated for the activation of FM radio receivers built into nearly every smartphone, as part of opening remarks he made at the Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C. yesterday,” Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors. “Many smartphones sold today, including iPhones, have an FM receiver built into the LTE modem that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air; however, many carriers and phone makers have not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.”

“Pai cited a NAB study that found only 44% of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had activated FM receivers as of last year,” Rossignol reports. “The vast majority—94%—of the non-activated smartphones are iPhones, according to the study.”

Rossignol reports, “Pai said that while he will keep speaking out about the benefits of activating FM receivers in smartphones, he is a believer in free markets and the rule of law, and he thereby cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips, nor does he believe the FCC has the power to issue said mandate.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Let the market decide… Oh, wait, it already has.


    1. This is a serious question: Does anybody have an idea what the effect would be on battery life if the modem chip was on constantly receiving an analog FM signal? I would think the impact would be quite different from receiving digital packets.

      1. Why would it be on constantly… it will be on when its in use .

        As for exact power consumption rate relative to receiving digital packets… no clue… but my gutt say it should be less on FM.

      2. FM reception uses an average of 63% less power than LTE streaming. It does vary widely depending on the LTE signal, however. The reason is that when smartphones have a weaker LTE signal (“less bars”), they attempt to compensate for this by boosting power to the antenna and signal amplifiers. This can cause a noticeable or even dramatic effect on battery life, particularly if your device has only 1 bar of service. At times like this, the FM signal power consumption could be one-tenth of what the very weak LTE streaming process would be.

        Personally, I don’t like the audio quality of analog FM. But I do see the benefit to some as far as battery life is concerned.

        1. I’ve see bathroom & clock radios last for quite some tome on batteries. Not that they are iPhones, but still radios and probably less power efficient. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Just my 2 cents

        2. FM analog audio is practically the best quality you can get. Your statement is baffling. Something must be wrong with your radio or audio equipment. My NAD tuner sounds as incredible as my NAD CD player when tuned to the right station.

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to say the market has decided. Most people don’t know there is an FM chip in their phone. Unless people know the chip is there and it could be activated, and they have a choice as to whether or not to activate it, the market has not decided, it has been kept in ignorance.

    1. Quite right- the market hasn’t decided on something it didn’t know about. Although, in my own case, I did purchase a model of iPod specifically because it had the FM active, and I still use it as an FM radio from time to time. (Because the FM radio market here in the Boston area is _awesome!_.)

    1. The quality of the reception will be just fine, as evidenced by the iPod I have that does have the FM chip active- but, and it’s a big BUT, you need to be using the wired earphones, which are necessary as an antenna for the FM signal. I have to say it’s a very rare day when I use earphones with my phone at all, and when I do, it’s a bluetooth set while driving. So…..

  2. MDN…

    Did the market decide to let Botty’s mom reproduce?
    Should the market decide about the Emergency Broadcast System?

    Should the market decide everything?
    The market has no right to decide everything. The airwaves are owned by each countries airspace and managed on behalf of their people by their governments in accordance with their laws. Not the market’s laws.

  3. I have not listened to radio since the introduction of the iPod.
    What I remember was commercials every ten minutes, annoying DJs and songs I did not want to hear.
    I have Android devices with working radio chips, never use it.

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