AT&T to request FM radio activation in Android phones

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AT&T customers who use Android smartphones might soon be able to listen to FM radio stations on their devices.

NextRadio, an app that can tune in FM stations, announced the news, saying that AT&T “is taking a proactive stance by including FM chip activation in their 2016 device specifications.”

While AT&T will request that manufacturers make the change, compliance won’t be required, The Verge points out.

According to, the next step “is for AT&T to communicate their request to manufacturers to activate the existing FM chip in Android smartphones.” The website details the collaborative efforts of NPR, American Public Media, NextRadio and the National Association of Broadcasters to lobby wireless carriers to activate the FM chips already inside smartphones.

“NextRadio will be working over the next few months with their smartphone partners to begin the work of activating FM Radio and NextRadio on as many devices as possible,” the site said. It expects the activation to be complete by next year, and some phones may have activated chips by the end of the year.

“The use of mobile phones to access public radio station broadcasts is an important element of providing communities with on-the-ground reporting during times of emergency and crisis,” said NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara. “We applaud AT&T’s decision to activate the FM receiver chips in all of its future Android smartphones. We hope other carriers will soon take the same action. For now, AT&T’s participation will expand access to public radio programming on millions of additional smartphones.”

“Today marks a new beginning in mobile technology with the agreement by a global iconic brand, AT&T, to light up the FM receiver chips in all of its future Android smartphones,” the National Association of Broadcasters, which has been advocating for wireless carriers to activate the FM chip in smartphones, said in a statement. “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.”

Sprint activated FM chips in its phones in 2013. AT&T has the second-largest market share for wireless carriers in the U.S., behind Verizon, so its activation of FM chips will dramatically expand the technology’s reach.

According to comScore, Android was the most popular operating system for smartphones in the U.S., with 52 percent of market share in May. Apple was second with about 44 percent.

Here is a list of supported devices for the NextRadio app, based on carrier.

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