Trump’s new FCC chairman believes manufacturers should open the FM chip in smartphones

A lot has been made about Apple and Tim Cook’s relationship with President Donald Trump, but the new FCC Chairman in the Trump Administration could finally give you access to that FM radio chip in your smartphone.

As detailed by Recode, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai believes that access to FM radios in smartphones is a public safety issue.

Speaking to the North American Broadcasters Association yesterday, Pai explained that access to the FM radio capabilities in smartphones would increase public safety as radio is a reliable source of information in situations where internet and/or cellphone networks are inaccessible. This includes situations such as severe weather and other natural disasters.

While Pai is an advocate for access to the FM capabilities of smartphones, we shouldn’t expect immediate change.

Pai explained that, being a believer in free markets, he can’t supporter a government mandate requiring access to the chips and thus hopes that the issue will sort itself out in the marketplace.

As a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don’t believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it’s best to sort this issue out in the marketplace.

Users have long called out manufacturers to switch FM radio chips on in devices. The National Association of Broadcasters publicly requested that Apple enable user access to the capability, while a petition last year gained steam but ultimately had no bearing on the industry.

The decision to open the FM chip to users is one that largely lies with manufacturers at this point. Carriers have done so on devices where manufactures agree, but Apple remains a holdout and restricts access to FM functionalities.

Even though Pai is a supporter of opening up the FM chip, we shouldn’t expect any swift action to be taken on his part. It’s up to Apple to enable the feature and Pai has made it clear he won’t force the company to do so.

Would you use the FM chip if it was activated? Let us know down in the comments.

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