The tech giant should remotely activate the FM radio frequency chips in its customers' iPhones so that they can get access to news through FM radio while damaged cellular towers are being repaired, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Thursday.
Apple shares are down 0.81%.
Apple has once again been urged to enable the FM radio transmitter in iPhone handsets following the spate of devastating hurricanes during the 2017 season.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents radio station owners, has for years lobbied lawmakers and the wireless industry on this issue.
For years, the majority of smartphones sold in the USA have included FM radios, but a lot of them have been turned off so that you couldn't use the function. Why? In Apple phones, the chip is built on to the Qualcomm and Intel Wi-Fi and cellular chips in every single iPhone.
At the heart of the matter is FM radio's place during natural disasters; though wireless service may go down, such as what happens during major storms like Hurricane Harvey, FM radio broadcasts will likely remain and give people a way to get necessary information. Over-the-air radio can then step in to provide invaluable and sometimes life-saving information like weather alerts to the millions of people who cannot get online.
While Pai has advocated for the enabling of the FM radio in the past, it has refrained from calling Apple out by name, despite the fact that Apple has been one of the main holdouts in implementing the feature.
"Local broadcasters are a lifeline information source in times of crisis, as Chairman Pai, Sen".
Now after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria tore through parts of the United States and the Caribbean, broadcasters are taking another opportunity to push Cupertino to rethink its stance. "Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and other members of Congress and the FCC have noted", the group said in a statement. "I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones".
Though some high-end phones still offer FM radio support, that is becoming increasingly uncommon.