As regular readers are aware, this website is part of the Radio Heard Here campaign. One of the reasons I was brought on board is because I have a passion for the medium and a broadcast background. I also have one foot in the digital world since I make my living producing content for the web and working with social media. The evolution of radio on the Internet and on mobile devices is a subject I have followed closely since the inception of this blog.
One issue that has arisen consistently is the integration of FM-capable chips into the new generation of smart phones. I know there are those who wonder why we would need an FM chip in phones that can access the Internet, and by extension an incredible array of radio signals via streaming. It really is not counterintuitive once you consider it.
With that in mind I’d like to direct readers towards a new initiative that has just gone live on the Radio Heard Here website, FM Radio in Mobile Phones. The objective is to push for FM receivers to become standard issue in all mobile phones.
There is a lot of great information there, and a lot that touches on my pet topic of emergency preparedness. I’ve been there in the days after Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the New Orleans levees. It was impossible to get a call through to the 504 area code. Overloading of the network brought cell based communications to a standstill. My phone became what some unfortunate iPhone users call “a brick.”
If there had been an FM receiver in that phone I would have been able access pertinent news and information without any regard for the state of the overburdened network. To me that personal experience is irrefutable proof of the need for these chips. Talk is easy, but when you’ve been there, things take on a different level of urgency.
There is already headway being made in this area, as the Radio Heard Here piece demonstrates:
Broadcom recently announced an integrated circuit device that combines WiFi, Bluetooth and FM on a single “chip,” making it easier for manufacturers to integrate essential functionality in one chip.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile are including FM radio-capable handsets in their offering and the radio industry is working on getting Apple on board as well. In fact, the Apple iPhone 3GS includes the Broadcom chip described above which has FM receiver capability. It is not a current function of the 3GS but can be easily included in a future upgrade since the FM-capable device is already present in the current design.
Nokia has sold more than 700 million devices with built-in FM radio receivers worldwide, demonstrating consumer recognition of the value.
Tell us your thoughts on this initiative by visiting www.radioheardhere.com/fmchip. Spread the word among your radio industry colleagues and ask them to do the same. Spread the word to listeners over the air and on your radio station websites and ask them to voice their support for FM radio on cell phones. Together, we can mobilize this initiative throughout the industry and the listening population to demonstrate the fundamental necessity for FM radio receivers in mobile devices.
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