In a recent advisory, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has urged the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and the Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT) to take necessary measures to ensure the availability of the inbuilt FM Radio receiver feature in mobile phones.
Decline in FM-enabled Mobile Phones
This move aims to address the significant decline in mobile phones equipped with FM tuners over the past few years, affecting both the accessibility of free FM Radio services for the underprivileged and the government's ability to disseminate real-time information during emergencies and disasters.
Impact on Accessibility and Emergency Communication
The advisory highlights the crucial role played by FM broadcast as a robust and reliable communication system, particularly in times of natural disasters and catastrophic situations. FM stations act as vital communication links between local authorities and the public, facilitating early warnings and alerts that can potentially save lives. Citing the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the advisory emphasizes that radio broadcasting is one of the most powerful and effective means of delivering critical information to the public during emergencies.
Importance of FM Radio during Emergencies
The Ministry stressed the need for speedy, timely, and reliable communication via FM-enabled mobile phones, in addition to regular standalone radio sets and car receivers, as this can greatly contribute to saving lives, protecting livelihoods, and better preparing communities to cope with disasters. The advisory also acknowledges the significant role played by India's extensive network of FM transmitters and FM radio in the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ensuring Availability of FM Radio in Mobile Phones
To ensure effective emergency communication, the MeitY advisory calls for the FM Radio receiver function or feature, wherever available on mobile phones, to be kept enabled and activated rather than being disabled or deactivated. Furthermore, MeitY urges mobile phone manufacturers to incorporate the FM Radio receiver function or feature in their devices where it is currently absent, emphasizing the importance of restoring widespread access to FM Radio services.
Enhancing Emergency Communication and Preparedness
This advisory from the Indian government underscores the critical role of FM radio in disseminating real-time information and acting as a lifeline during emergencies. By enabling and expanding the availability of FM Radio in mobile phones, the government aims to empower the public, particularly the underprivileged, and strengthen the nation's preparedness and resilience in the face of disasters.