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Alerting Report Pushes for FM Radio on Smartphones

CSRIC says “If alerting is to be successful, a wide and growing variety of channels must be used to reach the public”

A new best practices report from the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council includes a shout-out to the life-saving capabilities of radio-enabled smartphones.

In the report, the CSRIC, which consists of public warning professionals and equipment manufacturer representatives, calls on the FCC to “encourage the ongoing voluntary efforts between device manufacturers and the wireless industry toward enabling FM radio in smartphones.”

Activating the chips enables the FM tuners in smartphones with the NextRadio app to receive local radio signals, which “allows users to access life-saving emergency information, even when wireless networks are down,” the CSRIC report states.

The council’s purpose is to provide recommendations to the FCC ensure optimal security and reliability of communications systems, including telecommunications, media and public safety, during emergencies.

“Wireless carriers and mobile device vendors are enabling more and more devices with FM capability; introducing such capability in additional devices will enhance public safety. Functioning FM radio on smartphones provides consumers with several separate information infrastructures in their pockets; streaming services over the cellular infrastructure and the analog FM infrastructure,” according to the CSRIC report.

The report also cited a 2013 Sprint/NextRadio study that found listening to FM broadcasts on a smartphone can extend battery life of the smartphone by up to six times when compared to streaming audio, something the authors of the report believe is critical in an emergency.

The CSRIC report talks a lot about social media and the need to incorporate platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, Periscope, Instagram and Reddit into the fabric of emergency alerting.

“If alerting is to be successful, a wide and growing variety of channels must be used to reach the public,” which includes a variety of social media outlets and FM on smartphones, according to the CSRIC report.