The disabling of the FM radio negatively impacts the Centre’s ability to disseminate information in case of emergencies, MeitY said
MeitY issued the advisory after noticing a decline in the number of FM tuners, which has impacted the ability of the poor to get free FM
The advisory was reportedly sent to mobile phone manufacturers’ associations, including ICEA and MAIT
The central government has issued an advisory to mobile phone manufacturers stating that they should not disable the frequency modulation (FM) feature on the phones that come with FM receivers and tuners.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) added in the advisory that companies whose devices don’t come with FM should make efforts to provide the service, the ET reported, citing a copy of the aforementioned advisory.
The disabling of the FM radio on mobile devices negatively impacts the Centre’s ability to disseminate real-time information in case of emergencies, the ministry said. The advisory was reportedly sent to mobile phone manufacturers’ associations, including the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT).
MeitY has issued the advisory after noticing a ‘drastic fall’ in the number of FM tuners, which has impacted the ability of the poor to get free FM radio services.
“The FM broadcast is a robust and reliable communication system. FM stations serve as important communication links between the local authorities and people in times of natural disasters,” MeitY’s advisory reportedly said.
Frequency Modulation, or FM, is a basic form of signal modulation, which is used to broadcast sound waves over long distances. FM radios usually operate between 87.5 MHz and 108.5 MHz.
Given the FM radio frequency is far lower than something like mobile networks (for context, 5G operates mostly between 600 MHz and 25,000 MHz), it has a better range and can even be accessed in places where mobile connectivity is spotty.
While the use of FM for entertainment has gone down massively in recent years, its utility for the fast dissemination of publicly-relevant information is still there. In case of emergencies, such as natural disasters, the government can quickly broadcast messages carrying potentially life-saving information over a very large area.
To be sure, there are several radio channels still operational in India. According to the state-owned broadcaster Prasar Bharti, the government’s All India Radio still has 262 operational radio stations across the country, covering 92% of India’s landmass.
At the same time, there were 388 private stations operational in the country as of June 30, 2022, per the 2022-23 Economic Survey.