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The future of cell phones

Every time a new cell phone comes out, consumers avidly gather around it, both in person and online, in order to examine it for exciting new features.  Someday soon, one of those new features may be a radio chip so that cell phones can pick up signals from local radio stations.  Jeff Smulyan, who serves as CEO of Emmis Communications, certainly hopes that cell phones will go in that direction.  In fact, he testified on the issue this week before the US House of Representatives, speaking to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology during a presentation on the ‘future of audio’.

Smulyan began by emphasizing that he was not testifying in support of a mandate; not does he even support the concept of one.  Instead, he wishes to see expanded education on the subject of how radio chips in cell phones can provide huge benefits.  Smulyan also explained that some current cell phones already contain such chips, yet they generally remain inactivated and therefore of no use to the end consumer.

Many of Smulyan’s points centered on the cost savings that can be realized through using radio chips: “Today, mobile customers are streaming music through apps they’ve downloaded, but in the process, they are probably racking up hefty charges to their data plans…. A radio chip, on the other hand, picks up the free, over-the-air broadcast signal….  [and provides] a way to listen to music and information for free without meeting and exceeding their data caps.”