FM tuners in smartphones may be coming soon

By Ben Mook

FM tuners on smartphones could soon be a reality. On Tuesday,  at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, representatives of Sprint Nextel said that some phone models could soon come equipped with FM chips.

Sprint said it had entered into a preliminary agreement with radio industry representatives that will let its customers listen to local FM stations. “FM radio could be delivered through the NextRadio tuner application or other radio apps or services,” the company said, in a release.

“This is a great development for the radio industry, one which will help us bring the content and services that only radio can provide to the wireless system,” said Bob Pittman, c.e.o. of Clear Channel. “It’s an important benefit for consumers across America, and we are pleased to participate in this effort.”

Unlike traditional radio apps that tap into the Internet using a smartphone’s data plan, these new phones would have “NextRadio” tuner chips installed that will be available later this year. Details about the chips were a little vague, but Sprint said local FM stations would be available through a NextRadio app that uses the tuner chip.

The chips will only be available in smartphones running the Android or Windows Mobile operating systems.

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