Here is a piece of news that you probably didn’t imagine reading in 2017.
At a symposium on the future of radio and audio in Washington (United States), the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, pronounced [PDF] in favor of activation of FM radio transmitters of all smartphones.
No, you didn’t read it wrong: FM radio. Nowadays, all smartphones (including your iPhone) have the ability to offer FM radio broadcasts through receivers built into the LTE modem. However, operators and manufacturers prefer to leave this feature disabled, leaving only the option of listening to radio via streaming (online).
Pai cited a NAB study which shows that only 44% of the best-selling smartphones in the U.S. have FM receivers turned off and that the majority (94%) of these devices would be iPhones.
The idea of having deactivated receivers is not attractive to Pai, who believes that they “could be much better”. In a rather laughable line, he argues that “it’s strange that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, but these miraculous modern mobile devices don’t allow for a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman ”.
According to him, there are a range of benefits in activating the receivers, such as saving both battery and cell phone data, as well as being able to use in emergency situations when there is no signal.
Despite reinforcing the idea of the importance of this resource, he believes in “free markets” and in laws; therefore, it does not support a government mandate requiring the activation of these chips, nor does it believe that the FCC has the power to issue that mandate.
Even if something is done about it and the receivers are activated, how many people would actually use this function in 2017?