Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday issued a public statement requesting that Apple activate the disabled FM radio chips within its iPhones.
Pai made his appeal in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have wreaked havoc on communities across the US and beyond in recent weeks. The FCC chief’s framed the activation of the FM radio chip as a boon to public safety, since FM radio signals are generally easier to receive in times of emergency when compared to Internet-based services provided over a cellular network.
Though it may not be obvious at first blush, most smartphones have the ability to stream local FM radio stations directly. Chipmakers like Qualcomm and Intel have long baked FM radio tuners into the chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in iPhones and other handsets.