FCC's Copps: FM Chips Needed in Cell Phones

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Washington - Sep 8, 2011 - During his comments at a webinar on public safety, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps commented on the importance of public communications during emergencies. He stressed the need to "find solutions that will protect our country in times of emergency." He also lamented that we shouldn’t need emergency events such as the recent hurricanes and storms or the anniversary of 9/11 to remind us of the importance of public warning. His comments noted that there are often serious communication issues during an emergency.

The theme of the webinar looked at reporting network outages, and Copps focused on the importance of IP-based services when they are needed most. He then turned to the issue of adding FM receivers to cell phones. From his comments:

"I think the time is here for a thorough, calm and reasoned discussion about FM chips in handsets. We all acknowledge the need for redundancy in communications - especially emergency communications - and last week, during the earthquake, a lot of folks were only able to get information through radio broadcasts when the phone networks got congested. What are the pros and cons of an FM chip? To what extent have other countries had experience with this? There will be a lot of questions to answer, but with the stakes so high, we should be open to discussing any and all reasonable ideas. And we must understand the sense of urgency that this requires, given the passing of a decade between 9/11 and now. Public safety has waited too long. Citizens have waited too long."

The NAB has been a vocal supporter of enabling and even requiring FM receiver chips in all cell phones.

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