AT&T will include FM chip activation in its device specifications for Android smartphones in 2016, according to NextRadio and TagStation, the Emmis-owned entities that promote an FM listening app and station support infrastructure.
“This is a big milestone for the radio industry and shows working together and supporting this initiative is paying off,” the company said in an email signed “The NextRadio + TagStation Team.”
“The change is made by the OEMs (smartphone makers), and by having the support of carriers like Sprint and AT&T putting it in their specifications it increases the probability of getting the FM chip turned on,” it stated in an email. “We already have experienced handset makers activating it across all carriers (for example, new models of HTC One and Moto phones) and AT&T’s request fuels the support and progress being made.”
Next, NextRadio said, AT&T will communicate the request to manufacturers to activate existing FM chips in Android smartphones. “We will be working over the next few months with their smartphone partners to begin the work of activating FM Radio and NextRadio on as many devices as possible. The activation timing is expected for all new Android smartphones releasing in 2016, with a chance of some phones being ready by year-end.”
They also called on radio stations to continue running radio spots promoting NextRadio and FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org. “Research has indicated that our listeners want FM radio on their smartphones, and they will listen when it is activated.”
The NAB was quick to applaud, issuing a statement: “Today marks a new beginning in mobile technology with the agreement by a global iconic brand, AT&T, to light up the FM receiver chips in all of its future Android smartphones.” It said AT&T customers gain access to local radio content plus song tagging and interactivity features “that have become increasingly popular with younger listeners.”