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Lawmakers Urge FCC, DHS To Explore FM In Mobile Phones

November 9, 2009: Sixty members of the House have signed a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, requesting that their agencies "explore the potential benefits for the American public of including FM radio tuners in mobile telephone handsets."

The letter notes that the Warning Alert and Response Network Act of 2006 authorized the mobile industry to create an emergency alert system and continues, "It is our understanding that incorporating FM radio tuners in mobile phones could help achieve this goal. Radio's emergency alert system is a proven, reliable service."

Hundreds of millions of cellphones worldwide have FM tuners, the lawmakers note, but only a handful of devices available in the U.S. market offer radios. They write, "There is no excuse for American consumers' access to advanced technology to lag behind that available worldwide."

The lawmakers say that, with EAS information available via mobile handsets through FM Radio, "Everyone involved, including the American public and public safety officials, as well as the mobile phone and broadcasting industries, stands to benefit."

(11/10/2009 10:51:50 PM)
Well, now, let's just think this through. We need to lock the radio receiver on the cell phone to the one station in the area that is the EBS primary. The rest of the stations in the area have loaded up the voice tracks on the Prophet systems and locked the door for the weekend or went with the Premier Plus and only have a sales force in town. They can just key the cell phone to a flag in the RDS. The rf side will be tricky. The frequencies are far apart. It's doable. And, it's just what the broadcasters need...a hand and a handout from the cell phone industry.

- jterhar
(11/10/2009 9:43:35 PM)
So, someone needs to be listening to the radio on their handset to get the audio alert? Or is this a trojan horse for some proprietary software or chip that somebody is trying to get mandated on cell handsets. Really, the same job can be accomplished by switching on the cell broadcast function by carriers, which would alleviate - even eliminate - the logjam for text or even voice alerts.

AM/FM systems do an essential, central function. But this is mixing apples and oranges.

Besides, while cell phone networks are dead, radio stations will likely still be broadcasting. And battery radios will still be working, while cell phone handset batteries are long ezhausted.

- Still Alarmed
(11/10/2009 4:50:51 PM)
It is a great idea. Look at 911, cell phone networks FAILED and will do it again. The backbone just cannot carry the load, radio staions have gen sets and are the ones on the air in an emergency. I totally argee. Yes I am in radio and time and time again I see radio on the air in the storm and cell phones are dead!

- RadioGuy
(11/10/2009 2:34:21 PM)
This makes no sense. The WARN act ordered the FCC to look at a Commercial Mobile Alert System capability, which they did by creating a industry-side committee. That committee issued very detailed architecture and data requirements. FM radio distribution was rejected for a variety of reasons. Both industry and government were recommending geo-targeted data capabilities that FM radio does not provide.

- Alarmed
(11/10/2009 2:13:56 PM)
To Bill Bro - dude, reread the story, it's about providing access to the EAS system, something with IP apps cannot do (due to localization).

- Bill Bro response

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