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

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:

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:

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

CyberMonkTitan Member since:

I find it hard to believe that people at work don't have something like a radio, anymore, these days. Can't be sure about the US, but AFAIK most workplaces here have one around. The reference to the cars would of course be for that very same radio; getting out would naturally not be an option.

As for the air-raid sirens: no, I'm not crazy. They work very well in informing that something is wrong in the first place (which was shown recently when they decided to test 15 minutes late, here). The space issue, as pointed out below, is a painful oversight of mine, though. Indeed I guess it won't be very practical to try and cover the US with them.

Reply Parent Score: 1

kragil Member since:


And what good is a cellphone without a radio antenna? (For radio antennas you always need special headphones, otherwise reception is not there) And even if you have reception, what good does it do? Yeah it might inform you, but you could always use SMS for that (The cell networks could prioritize SMS over calls and just send out SMS messages to everyone)

But let's not have a technical discussion. Pentagon, 9/11, yadda, yadda. I only watch FoxNews! Tea party!

Reply Parent Score: 4

mkallman Member since:

Interesting statements you're making here...

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.

And the existence of an FM receiver embedded within a cellphone would have made a difference? The buildings in question were wrecked, and so is it not a slightly more sane solution to utilize realtime, local communication such as an internal speaker system? Or are people somehow in the midst of chaos going to camp in a corner, wait for a local source to relay information to a public channel, have go through human processing, and being broadcast back? If you find yourself in the middle of a collapsing building you sure as hell are not going to run to the nearest TV for an update - you are getting the f- out of there. In any other case one would probably have to argue for natural selection.

Further it is very interesting that you assume throwing yet another channel into the mix alongside with sirens, TV, radio and word of mouth would somehow lead to less chaos. Complex systems under stress exhibit an even greater degree of chaos the more stimuli it is fed (of any kind.)

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...

... Are you aware that radio is a traditional broadcast medium that predates the television and fell out of favor over decades ago? And further, are you going to force people to use something they don't want?

Just as a side note, installing a mobile missle platform on every vehicle is likely to lead to less terrorism.

Seriously, it's time for the USA to have a reality check and realize you are being fed FUD.

Reply Parent Score: 1