AT&T to Allow FM Radio on Smartphones

Did you know that most smartphones actually have a radio receiver built in? Smartphones already come with FM chips and in other countries they are actually turned on. But despite industry group advocacy, this has not been true in the United States.

AT&T, the nation’s second largest mobile phone carrier, announced this week that they will include FM chip activation in its smartphones in 2016. Sprint made a similar move in 2013 and it seems possible that eventually all carriers will enable radio reception on handheld devices.

AT&T partnered with NextRadio to offer access to radio stations over the traditional airwaves rather than the Internet. The NextRadio app adds an FM tuner to smartphones, letting users select and change channels.

“With this decision, AT&T’s customers become the biggest beneficiaries, giving them access to local radio news, entertainment, weather, and failsafe emergency alert connectivity,” said Gordon Smith, CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters in a statement.

This move will allow AT&T Android smartphone users to tune into local radio stations the same way that they would in their vehicle or at home, giving them access to local news, entertainment and weather updates.

This can be particularly valuable for those living in regions prone to storms, hurricanes or other oft-occurring natural disasters that have the potential to render cell towers useless.