T-Mobile throws support behind FM radio chipsets, following Sprint and AT&T

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CEO John Legere indicated that the carrier will work with its handset partners to include FM radio chipsets in its phones. The move comes weeks after AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) indicated it plans to do the same for its Android-based smartphones that come out next year.

"We heard you!" Legere tweeted. "We're saying yes to FM chip and will push our OEM partners to support!" The tweet was in response to a campaign from NextRadio, a mobile application that lets users listen to FM radio stations on smartphones.

T-Mobile's official Twitter account later tweeted that "we are saying yes to FM chip and will be working with our partners to make sure it's supported moving forward."

T-Mobile has had FM chipsets in its phones in the past. The new announcements indicate the carrier will be pushing all of its OEMs to support the chips. Adding in support for FM radio chipsets will let customers tune in to local terrestrial radio stations for music and news and avoid using cellular data.

In late July AT&T indicated it will include FM chip activation in its device specifications for Android smartphones in 2016, according to a report from Radio World, which cited NextRadio and TagStation, entities that promote an FM-listening app and station support infrastructure. 

NextRadio said AT&T will communicate the request to include FM radios to its OEM partners and to activate existing FM chips in Android smartphones. "We 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," NextRadio said. "The activation timing is expected for all new Android smartphones releasing in 2016, with a chance of some phones being ready by year-end."

Sprint (NYSE: S) has supported FM radio chipsets in its phones since 2013 and NextRadio lists Sprint and Sprint prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile as supporters, along with AT&T.   

A Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Verizon's position.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) last month applauded AT&T's move. "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," NAB said, adding that AT&T customers will gain access to local radio content plus song tagging and interactivity features "that have become increasingly popular with younger listeners."

Several years ago the Consumer Electronics Association fought NAB over a proposal to require the inclusion of FM radio chipsets in all phones, but it appears carriers are acceding to customers' demands and working with handset makers on the issue.

For more:
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this Twitter post
- see this TMoNews article

Related articles:
AT&T wants FM radios in all Android phones
Industry wrestles with the growing problem of spectrum pollution
Will FM radios be required in mobile phones?

Article updated Aug. 17 at 4:35 p.m. ET with additional information from T-Mobile

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