Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has a message for Apple CEO Tim Cook: "Flip the switch" and turn on FM radios embedded in iPhones.
In the wake of three major hurricanes that have wiped out communications for millions of people over the past month, Pai issued a statement Thursday urging Apple, one of the largest makers of cellphones in the US, to "reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria." FM radios that are already included in every phone could be used to access "life-saving information" during disasters, he said.
Apple said in a statement that the "iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products." That said, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus introduced in 2015 do have an FM radio as part of its chipset, but the radio isn't activated nor is it attached to an antenna that would allow it to receive a signal.
While cell phone infrastructure is often knocked out in the wake of a big storm, broadcast signals, which use low frequencies and can travel much further distances and penetrate through obstacles, usually remain up.
Bill Nelson of Florida is leading the charge.