Cellphone makers and wireless companies are being pressured by broadcasters to activate FM chips already installed on most smartphones.
It would mean in times of disaster, like the Fort McMurray wildfire, you could still use your cellphone as a radio to receive emergency updates if service goes down.
Doug Kirk, with the Association of Broadcasters, tells Global News it could end up being a lifesaver.
“It is a lifeline if there are any public safety issues,” remarked Kirk. “When emergencies happen and local communications can be cut off, then this is a real help to everybody. And that, I think, is why everybody wants it.”
But Kevin Gemmell, with the B.C. Association of Broadcasters, says carriers are reluctant to allow the technology in an effort to protect their ability to charge for bandwidth used for streaming audio.
“I would say the carriers, more U.S. based as opposed to Canadian, were protecting their ability to charge for bandwidth, which is why they would disable them,” explained Gemmell. “It’s not that they have a hate on for radio or for our technology or what we do — I believe they were just trying to monetize as best they can.”
Barry Rooke, with the National Campus and Community Radio Association, says accesses to the technology is still a hit and miss affair.
“Some have availability, already, so you can actually try and see if it’s available on your phone,” remarked Rooke. “Whereas others are sort of stalling and waiting for more information, or for us to encourage and put some public pressure on to make those changes.”
He says it would allow for people to spend less time with data services, adding using your cellphone as a radio improves your battery life by three or four times over streaming. (td)