FM Radio is all set to make a return on smartphones, as the OEMs have now been directed by the Indian government to include a FM Radio in their devices. While the feature is still available on some lower-end devices from brands such as Nokia, most smartphones generally don’t include it. However, with the new rule in place, things should change soon.
The advisory was issued by the government to the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) along with the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT). The move is aimed at minimising the digital divide, and to make radio services accessible to people in rural and remote areas who cannot afford standalone radio sets.
Moreover, the new rule will ensure that information and entertainment is spread rapidly through radio services, also making it more accessible, particularly during emergencies and disasters. The IT ministry has advised that the FM radio function or feature should not be disabled or deactivated if it is inbuilt into smartphones. If its not present altogether, then it should be built into all the mobile phones.
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The IT ministry said that it observed a significant decline in mobile phones with FM radio in recent years. This has negatively impacted those people whose income is below the poverty threshold or people with low-income who rely on free FM radio services as well as the government’s ability to send out real-time information during emergencies, disasters, and calamities.
The IT ministry also expressed the need for speedy, timely, and reliable communication via FM-enabled mobile phones, in addition to standalone radio sets and car receivers, during disasters, as it can save precious lives, livelihoods and prepare users to deal better with such events.
The advisory also referred to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which has previously suggested that mobile phones should have radio enabled. According to the ITU, radio broadcasting is a powerful, effective, and long-standing method of delivering early warnings and alerts to the public in times of emergencies and disasters. Hence, the new change will help meet this requirement.