AT&T to demand Android phones feature FM radios by 2016

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AT&T Android Phones Will Have Activate FM Radio Chips From 2016.

Like many consumers, I’ve mostly stopped listening to the radio — mainly because I rarely drive anymore and many of my favorite shows are available as online podcasts.Since most Android smartphone manufacturers include an FM receiver chip in their devices by default, the issues has always been whether or not the carrier that sells the phone specifies it should be activated.AT&T also likely wants to head off any FCC or Congressional mandates regarding the FM chip, even though FCC Chairman Wheeler has said he prefers the wireless and radio industries to work it out themselves.

On Tuesday AT&T, the nation’s second largest wireless carrier, announced that it is activating the FM radio chips on Android smartphones subscribed to its service. With this decision, AT&T’s customers become the biggest beneficiaries, giving them access to local radio news, entertainment, weather, and failsafe emergency alert connectivity. Beginning in 2016, subscribers buying new compatible phones will be able to use the free NextRadio app to listen to both terrestrial broadcasts and those stations’ internet streams.

That’s because starting with every new Android phone it sells in 2016, AT&T will be activating the receiver inside that’s designed to tap into FM signals. Many might not be aware that some of these handsets have a radio that’s deactivated by the handset manufacturer mostly for business and cost reasons. AT&T is one the largest mobile carriers in the United States and is now working with NextRadio and FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org to begin activating the existing FM chips in their smart phones. AT&T is the latest phone carrier to include FM chip activation, agreeing to a no-cost deal with NEXTRADIO for their 2016 ANDROID smartphone device specifications. NextRadio worked with Sprint to get it to support FM activations back in 2013, so this isn’t unprecedented; radio activation is also something that NPR and the National Association of Broadcasters have been pushing for.

CNET Smartphones have a lot of radios inside to provide all of the services we expect. “We always felt that one big carrier was the tipping point and that’s where we are now”. With access to apps like NextRadio, AT&T’s listeners will also enjoy song tagging and interactivity features that have become increasingly popular with younger listeners”. RAB President and CEO Erica Farber said of the deal, “The continued integration and adoption of NextRadio by yet another telecommunication company is proof positive radio’s place continues in next generation smartphones and mobile devices and that is good news for our listeners and our advertisers”.

The 2013 deal between Emmis Communication-the company behind NextRadio-and Sprint required the radio company to give $15 million a year in advertising industry to the carrier, along with a 30% share of any ad revenue generated by the NextRadio app. NextRadio is an app that adds an FM tuner to your smartphone, letting you select and change channels. “This is a big milestone for the radio industry,” said NextRadio in a statement, “and shows working together and supporting this initiative is paying off.” Radio stations have been asking regulators to make turning on FM chips a mandatory requirement for cellular service providers. I’ve had smartphones with FM radios in them and have always been a fan not only because the radio doesn’t use any expensive data, but it also uses a lot less battery power than keeping a constant internet audio stream going.

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