Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Aug 2010 22:19 UTC
Multimedia, AV A couple of days ago we talked about how the RIAA and NAB are planning on asking US Congress to mandate FM radio chips inside every cell phone. This plan was met with some ridicule, so the NAB decided to write a blog post addressing the critics. Most of the post is overshadowed by an overdose of America's favourite national pastime: WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. 9/11!
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Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by ferrels on Wed 25th Aug 2010 23:28 UTC
ferrels
Member since:
2006-08-15

You insensitive remarks about what Americans are afraid of really shows a lack of sensitivity and a lack of understanding regarding the proposed mandated chips. I was assigned to the Pentagon when it was attacked and cell phone networks were either overwhelmed by emergency responders and civilians trying to place calls or cell phone towers were damaged and unusable. Cell phones were totally unusable during the event and the ability to send out emergency info via an FM receiver embedded in cell phones would have undoubtedly saved lives and helped diminish the confusion and panic.

The US has required television broadcasters to operate and maintain an emergency broadcast system for years and it's tested regularly. But most people have moved away from broadcast television and traditional mass media distribution systems so it's only natural that in times of emergency that state, local and federal officials would want to move emergency broadcasts to the systems the technology almost every American has in their pocket.....the cell phone.

Edited 2010-08-25 23:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by CyberMonkTitan on Thu 26th Aug 2010 00:20 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
CyberMonkTitan Member since:
2009-04-01

I can imagine (though I'm not entirely convinced) the need for the government to be able to mass-communicate to people using technological measures. The only thing that strikes me as odd is that there is apparently no better proposal for doing this other than mandating FM chips in cell phones. Not only does this mean that all those that currently have an FM-free phone are either left out of emergency news or are forced to "upgrade" their otherwise perfectly capable phone, it also means that a completely separate infrastructure is to be kept alive and working just for this cause.

For mass communication during emergencies the cell phone is an interesting idea, certainly, but maybe one should look at actually using its normal capabilities? Have the operators build a special mode of functioning into the masts, from what I know of GSM and similar networks, they should be able to override all communication with the chosen communication. Mass-SMS during override mode would come to mind.

Me, I think I'll just stick to how the Dutch government has done it: air-raid sirens (yes, special infrastructure, but you're not going to warn people for an air-raid using anything that might not reach someone) and broadcasting using all possible mass media, be it old or new. And you're not telling me people don't watch television or listen to the radio, anymore. And even if they do everything over the internet, they usually have a car...

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by whartung on Thu 26th Aug 2010 01:12 in reply to "RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
whartung Member since:
2005-07-06

FM has far more bandwidth (since it's broadcast vs point to point) than SMS or any other cell phone tech. That's why the networks crash, they're not designed to work with "everybody" at the same time.

FM is "cheap and primitive". In Southern California, 20-30 point to point phone calls will pretty much hit every FM broadcaster and their combined megawattage will cover several million people very quickly, and localized in to the different languages. That's quite efficient. That's how it would likely go down, even before an Emergency Broadcast alert goes out (that's what it's for, to notify other stations, not necessarily the public itself).

Radio works when the power is down, since most radios are battery powered. Only the radio stations need large amounts of power, and most have backup power. Plus the radio stations are (mostly) well distributed, so one can be taken out while others are on the air (downside is many have their antennas concentrated on a few, select mountain peaks...but...not all of them).

A radio is a very convenient thing to have in public emergencies. Folks were glued to radios and TVs during the fire emergencies looking for evacuation news and such. We've all seen the foibles of the internet under load (both the good times and bad). Must be fun to see the Cal Tech traffic spike up after every earthquake down here.

And cell phone networks simply are not designed to take the load of a public aroused.

From a Civil Defense point of view, a radio in the cell phone is a good idea. I don't think we have a radio here our office, for example (our bad, I'll get that fixed). So if the net and cell towers were down, we'd be pretty much dead to the world, and have to go down to our cars to listen to anything.

That said, I wouldn't mandate a radio in a cell phone. It would be nice if it were more available. If it's more popular, than odds are good that there will be better, and probably "enough" penetration of radios in to the population to be effective in a CD scenario, without having to mandate every phone having it.

Part of the problem is the people advocating the solution. It's like how come all the "HEMP NOW" people seem to hang out in head shops around pot paraphernalia? Kind of hurts the message.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by ferrels on Thu 26th Aug 2010 01:50 in reply to "RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
ferrels Member since:
2006-08-15

The people in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon didn't have televisions at their desks nor did they have cars in which they could run to in order to make an escape.

The roads were gridlocked with emergency vehicles so even if you could have made it to a car you wouldn't have gotten anywhere. And what's the point of an air raid siren? Are you crazy? Everyone already knew a tragedy was underway and how the heck would anyone hear an air raid siren deep within the bowels of the Pentagon or at the top or bottom of the World Trade Center? An air raid siren would just make it harder for everyone to hear....for those who would be in range to hear it anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by fridder on Thu 26th Aug 2010 00:53 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
fridder Member since:
2007-11-03

I think the major issue here is that this argument is not coming from safety officials or the military and this "need" has never been expressed before. Being highly skeptical of an industry organization is warranted in this case.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by HappyGod on Thu 26th Aug 2010 00:57 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

You insensitive remarks about what Americans are afraid of really shows a lack of sensitivity and a lack of understanding regarding the proposed mandated chips. I was assigned to the Pentagon when it was attacked and cell phone networks were either overwhelmed by emergency responders and civilians trying to place calls or cell phone towers were damaged and unusable. Cell phones were totally unusable during the event and the ability to send out emergency info via an FM receiver embedded in cell phones would have undoubtedly saved lives and helped diminish the confusion and panic. ...


There are a few problems with your argument:

1. As stated in the article, in order to use the FM radio in mobile phones, you need the earphones.

2. Unless you design the phone to detect emergency broadcasts, the user would have to be actually listening to the radio at the exact moment the broadcast was sent.

3. Digital radio will soon replace analogue radio, removing the need for separate FM chips. So we are mandating the installation of an already obsolete technology.

4. You are twice as likely to be crushed under a vending machine than to die in a terrorist attack, and far, far more likely to drown in your own bathtub.

If we take the "It would save lives" argument then why don't mandate the compulsory wearing of life jackets at all times on the off chance you might fall into a river - It would eventually save lives. Good idea? No.

Reply Parent Score: 12

jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

Unless you design the phone to detect emergency broadcasts, the user would have to be actually listening to the radio at the exact moment the broadcast was sent.


Which, in the event of a national emergency where the phone networks go down, is quite possible (and even feasible).

You are twice as likely to be crushed under a vending machine than to die in a terrorist attack, and far, far more likely to drown in your own bathtub.


Large groups of people are not twice as likely to be crushed under a vending machine, or to drown in their own bathtub, at the same time. And in some parts of the country, hurricanes are much, much more likely than either of these events.

Don't get me wrong; I think this is a stupid, stupid law. But some of the arguments being thrown against it are amazingly bad...

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by Morgan on Thu 26th Aug 2010 12:05 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

As much as I loathe government mandated nonsense, you do make an excellent point. Coming from a nearly lifelong amateur radio background myself (growing up around it and getting licensed early in my adult life) I can see where an FM receiver in a phone could come in handy in emergencies, as well as being a nice feature at other times. The phone I want to go to next, the N900, has both a receiver and transmitter on the FM bands.

However, I think if the NAB is going to try to use emergency communications as an argument, they should be willing to consider seeking a mandate on true emergency bands, like 121.5MHz, the international aeronautical emergency band, or better yet 138.225MHz, which is FEMA's natural disaster broadcast band. Unfortunately, I don't see the NAB and certainly not the RIAA calling for inclusion of these true emergency bands. That makes their entire "for your own safety" argument suspect in my eyes, and it falls back to their original overt reasons: It's all about government mandated money in their pockets.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by phoenix on Thu 26th Aug 2010 17:49 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Cell phones were totally unusable during the event and the ability to send out emergency info via an FM receiver embedded in cell phones would have undoubtedly saved lives and helped diminish the confusion and panic.


"Receivers" cannot send data. That would require a "transmitter" or a "transceiver". IOW, an FM receiver in the phone would not have helped for sending data.

And, since you need a wired headphone to act as the antenna, which I doubt many people carry with them at work, I doubt you would have been able to receive an FM broadcast to your phone.

IOW, totally useless in an emergency.

A separate battery-operated AM/FM radio would be much more useful, especially since multiple people would be able to listen to it simultaneously.

in times of emergency that state, local and federal officials would want to move emergency broadcasts to the systems the technology almost every American has in their pocket.....the cell phone.


Except, how would you get information to it, if the cell systems are jammed, or the towers knocked over?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Dennis, you're a jacka@@
by SteveNordquist on Sun 29th Aug 2010 03:29 in reply to "Dennis, you're a jacka@@"
SteveNordquist Member since:
2007-05-04

Only, it wouldn't work in the stated cases, any more than regular cellphone routing (dutifully ejecting punters, or in actual cell misconfiguration) would it? Why would we want to pressure communications systems to use a system laden with IBOC digital distortion, no particular qualifications, distracting, unstructured, content payment according to LOC designations (you Stalinist toady, by the way) etc? Even so, you say it like a Democrat.

It's pork stuffed with bacon fat.

Reply Parent Score: 1