A petition has been started to step up the pressure on telecoms and cellphone makers to activate what they see as an important lifeline to public safety.
While cell towers can go down in emergencies like the Fort McMurray wildfire or the Southern Alberta floods, the radio stays up.
National Campus and Community Radio Association Executive Director Barry Rooke says most cellphones are already equiped with an FM chip, which would allow listeners to access a radio station’s off-air signal, and he would like to see makes activate that chip.
“It allows for people to spend less time with data services, it improves your battery life by three or four times that it normally would for streaming,” Rooke told Global News. “And it has a very important safety feature when it comes to emergency broadcasting as well.”
Rooke adds the chip is generally available on Blackberry and certain platforms of Android, while Apple is “the tough nut to crack.”
Ontario Association of Broadcasters President Doug Kirk says the chip should be activated for all phones.
“If there are any public safety issues when emergencies happena nd local communications can be cut off, this is a real help to everybody,” Kirk said. “That’s why I think everybody wants it.”
You can read more about the petition here.