Deep within virtually ever mobile phone manufactured today is a tiny chip capable of receiving FM broadcasts. You’d never know it, though, because it’s not turned on. Why? Because mobile phone providers have no interest in anything that might steer people away from consuming bandwidth on their (overpriced) data plans. FM radio is, of course, free. It’s three times less taxing on the battery than data and consumes 20x less bandwidth.
This is enormously frustrating to broadcasters who would love to have an FM radio in everyone’s pocket or purse. And then there’s the public safety aspect.
When the cell phone grid was threatened in Fort McMurray, the most reliable way of transmitting emergency information was old-fashioned radio.
There’s a campaign in the US for the government to mandate the activation of FM chips in all cell phones–with some success, too, thanks to Emmis and their solution called NextRadio–and there’s a growing call for the Canadian government to do the same thing. The National Campus and Community Radio Association here in Canada is demanding that Bell, Rogers, Telus and all the other providers unlock the FM chip for Canadians.
This has to be made law. Any support from any direction is welcome.