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FCC calls on Apple to activate iPhone FM chips, forgetting they don’t exist

This week, FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, called on Apple to switch on FM radio chips inside of iPhone’s as a matter of public safety in the midst of recent hurricanes and floods. The commissioner named Apple as the only mobile maker to resist and it turns out, the company had good reason to, as Apple no longer puts FM chips inside of the iPhone.

In a statement issued on Thursday this week, Pai said: “In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are
already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States”. Adding that “when wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information”.

Apple was labelled as the only major phone maker to resist activating its FM chips and it turns out, the company had a good reason- they don’t exist. Well, at least not in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. In its own statement, Apple said:

“Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.”

The bizarre part of this story is that the FCC tests all radio devices before they are eligible for sale in the United States, so it likely would have already been aware of Apple’s lack of FM support.

KitGuru Says: This wouldn’t be the first time the US government has butted heads with Apple over an issue and it probably won’t be the last. Still, this particular exchange was amusing, particularly since the FCC would have approved Apple’s lack of FM chip in the first place. 

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