Mexico Requires FM Chip Activation

Function must be available in the unit, though, which apparently leaves Apple untouched
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The effort to push activation of FM chips in smartphones in North America is getting a boost from Mexican lawmakers.

According to a story posted at eMarketer, “New Rules in Mexico Unlock FM Radio on Smartphones,” the Mexican communications authority in April approved a rule requiring smartphone manufacturers to “enable the technology that allows the device to pick up radio signals.”

The broadcast association CIRT applauded the decision, which it had been pushing, according to the story. Separately, one observer told Radio World that the move is good for the FM chip effort throughout all of Latin America because manufacturers tend to use one set of product inventory to serve markets in that region.

Reached for comment, NextRadio President Paul Brenner, who is a key point person on the push on smartphone radio chips, clarified for us what the law does and does not do.

Brenner said the Mexico law will require smartphone makers to activate the tuning feature if it is available in the phone in the first place, which means it covers pretty much all late-model Android models; but he said Apple -- still an elusive and important target for FM chip proponents -- considers the radio tuning function as not available internally and therefore argues its iPhones are not covered by the law.

Still this looks to be an important win for backers of FM chips in phones and other consumer electronics devices, who have labored to keep their initiative in front of thought leaders and standards bodies.

Separately the North American Broadcasters Association recently said it gained international support for the activation of FM radio receivers in smartphones, as we reported; it submitted an Opinion that was adopted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in March.