New Smartphones in India Must Include FM Radio.
FM radio is no longer found on smartphones these days. However, the Indian IT Ministry has issued an advisory that states mobile phone makers must ensure that FM radio is available on all smartphones. All smartphones that are to be sold in India should mandatorily have the FM radio enabled by default. With this move, the Indian government will make radio services accessible to people residing in rural and remote areas.
Moreover, FM radio, being a low-cost and reliable mode of communication, can be helpful in making emergency announcements. The Ministry highlighted the significance of the vast network of FM transmitters and FM radio available in India which played a crucial role in the country’s efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the report, the advisory was issued by the Indian government to the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) along with the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT). The IT ministry has advised that the FM radio feature should not be disabled on smartphones if it is inbuilt. Also, if a smartphone doesn’t come with an FM radio feature, manufacturers have to include it on such devices.
The government advisory also cites the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which has suggested enabling mobile phone radio. This will help the lower-income population in the country get access to free entertainment as well as real-time emergency information or government announcements.
The decision might cause some problems for manufacturers like Apple as hi-end iPhones are not any longer fitted with a 3,5 mm plugin for the earphones cable which also is serving as an FM antenna.
Public broadcaster All India Radio today covers the country with 615 FM-transmitters which reach 73,5% of the population. The government has also approved the installation of an additional 63 FM transmitters. India is also a major mover regarding digital radio on FM; DRM+ and has also established a hightpower mediumwave transmitter network which is digital enabled; DRM30.
This is an important decision by the world’s most populous nation (1,4 billion) and will probably will be followed by other major nation which already are on a similar track as Mexico, Brazil and the United States. This is also a promotion setback regarding the digital DAB-system which is a too energy demanding in order to be embedded into a smartphone.
There are more than 2.5 billion smartphones in the world. Already today, smartphones - after FM receivers - are the second largest listening platform when it comes to radio. The Indian decision further strengthens that position.
Government has an FM radio 'advisory' for smartphone manufacurers (Times of India)