In a bid to bridge the digital divide and improve access to radio services, the Indian government has issued an advisory to mobile phone manufacturers in the country. The advisory, directed towards the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT), emphasizes the importance of enabling and ensuring easy access to FM radio on all smartphones.
The move aims to cater to the needs of people residing in rural and remote areas who may not have the means to afford standalone radio sets. By enabling FM radio on mobile phones, the government aims to provide a reliable source of information and entertainment, particularly during emergencies and disasters.
The advisory highlights that the FM radio feature should not be disabled or deactivated if it is already built into the mobile phone. Furthermore, if the feature is not present, mobile phone manufacturers are encouraged to include it in future devices.
The Ministry of Information Technology (IT) emphasizes the decline in mobile phones with FM radio capabilities in recent years, which has had a significant impact on the lower-income population who heavily rely on free FM radio services. This not only affects their access to entertainment but also hampers the government’s ability to disseminate real-time information during critical situations.
The IT ministry believes that FM-enabled mobile phones, along with standalone radio sets and car receivers, play a crucial role in facilitating fast and reliable communication during emergencies, disasters, and calamities. By enabling FM radio on mobile phones, lives and livelihoods can be safeguarded, as it allows for the efficient transmission of early warnings and alerts to the public.
Citing the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the advisory emphasizes that radio broadcasting is one of the oldest, most effective, and powerful means of providing timely information to the public during emergencies. The ITU recommends the use of FM-enabled mobile phones alongside standalone radio sets and car receivers to enhance communication capabilities during disasters, ultimately leading to better preparedness and improved resilience.
The Indian government’s advisory serves as a reminder of the significance of FM radio and its role in ensuring widespread access to information and entertainment. Enabling FM radio on mobile phones will not only bridge the digital divide but also contribute to saving lives, protecting livelihoods, and facilitating effective disaster management.