To the question is this just an echo chamber - in a way yes - if the moderators have not been given authority to explain with transparency, then we do contacts with companies, and it is clear to me after having three phones that had FM radio - an early Nokia that was not disabled on FM - it still is my backup phone and radio and mp3 player backup, my old Logitech mp3 player had FM radio, and Blackberry did not allow the big three to disable the feature, so the manufacturer can force the feature sets, if they so choose - I still have my Q10 with FM and MP3 and video playing, my daughter's Sony Xperia, as I mentioned earlier, when she first bought it from Rogers, it wasn't disabled, but things like Spotify weren't being pushed yet, then on an upgrade, the chip got disabled.
But silence means that Rogers has no intention to speak to it other than, I can understand how frustrating it can be to not get the full feature set of a phone you have carefully researched. At this time, there are no reported plans to support it, but if something new arises, we will report it.
They have way too much control over features on phones, and if the manufacturers won't force it (FM radio requires nothing from the carrier network, other features may require network configuration and I can see that = although I don't buy it when it comes to things like WIFI calling and other features that run on their branded phones - they could easily push the patch out as Blackberry did it for years - requires cooperation with the manufacturer - this is just another way like locking to force us to buy their products directly from them - oh yeh, Apple tends to by pass this too as their updates come from their stores - Blackberry - old BB10 OS and before and Apple don't let carriers touch programming much to maintain high security).
I have escalated the concerns, and sent to CRTC and framed it recently under restriction our choice of where to move to and use our unlocked phones, and I was told they are listening to the issue from many, and in principle it does impose a restriction on choice and movement and have sent it along with other issues, like wholesale Internet pricing on the high speed channels back to the working groups).
Unfortunately on the FM issue, unless you have a techy type person who can bypass and activate the chip, you are kind of stuck at this time as they all do it.
We have to keep the pressure on these companies that we want freedom to choose our phones and then our carriers and if the carrier can't support the feature, we look elsewhere, or keep pressuring.
Glad to see this discussion is still on going.
Is it legal? Unfortunately yes. Here is a quote from a Global story on how to activate the FM radio by installing the software. The story was about how the FM feature would come in handy in the during the fires in Fort McMurray in 2016 as many towers went down during the fire, and in addition, the FM feature requires so little power to run. So you can save your power for hearing emergency reports and when you can get a signal to make a phone call to report your safety.
In a wired article, also in 2016, they talk about the fact that all Qualcomm modem chips found in many phones now have the FM chip included.
Now what makes it legal - yes, we do own the phone - basically, we own the device, but the software and firmware that takes it from being a bunch of useless electronics, screens, and plastic, we purchase the right to use the licenses attached to the software and firmware. Using Windows as an analogy - any computer builder can sell you a license (note the word license to use Windows), then add any features of their own to the computer.
When we purchase a phone, we also purchase an installed software (OS and feature set) and as the global article said,Perhaps surprisingly, your phone may be able to switch roles and work as a traditional FM radio — if its maker, or your wireless company, allows it.
The manufacturer can choose to enable a feature set in the chips on the device, or to disable it. Samsung has chosen to turn theirs on since 2016 and to advertise it as a feature under their product description.
In the US, most carriers, under pressure of the FCC and public, one carrier at a time has turned the option on with committees at Congress indicating they would prefer to see it turned on for emergency alert.
In Canada, our powers that be have chosen to be silent on this issue, instead requiring the alert messaging over the network to be implemented by wireless carriers and by BDU's like Rogers cable, leaving the existing alert system on FM radio and broadcast TV unavailable to many unless you watch broadcast over the air.
So it would appear that our current CRTC approach is to not concern themselves with getting into this discussion. Requests in the Global article for comment were ignored by carriers and by CRTC and the minister in charge.
The only reason I personally see that they turn it off is so that we are forced to go to things like the music over the Internet like spotify and others and even the FM stations are broadcast on HeartRadio if I recall.
I still have two older phones, both bricks as far as the network is concerned, a Blackberry Q10 which Blackberry at the time did not let Rogers turn the feature of FM off as it was a key marketed feature in all their ads and they made a very big deal when they set it up. I also have an old Nokia that has FM too. I use both of them for FM and for MP3 playing while leaving my phone as a phone (I don't have data anyway).
So legal, yes, it is a contract around licensing, can a manufacturer force it, yes, and we don't own the right to use all feature sets. It is similiar to our modems for Internet - not all features are available to us either because Rogers has chosen not to support them, or they are unreliable and therefore not supported (USB NAS drives for example and many others).
So, yes the carriers can turn on or off any feature on the device because it may not be reliable of functional on their network, or they don't want to invest in supporting the feature, or for marketing reasons - in some executive meeting, never to be spoken to us, other than they don't support the feature, they chose to in that network programming cycle of updates, remove the feature.
In the US, customers got it changed, continue to talk about it, or another option, but you will lose other features is to buy the phone from Samsung direct. You will probably lose things like WIFI calling, and voice over LTE for sure. As Rogers says, they don't support all features of a device not purchased directly from Rogers.
You are not the first to come forward and challenge this whole thing,
But legal yes, and yes, you own the phone, but not the software to the features unfortunately.
Sept 2018 FM on newer phones.
In the US, there has been a collaboration due to push from consumers, the congress which led to a collaboration for many carriers to leave the FM chips capable of functioning using an android app called NextRadio.
On this site, you will find reference to the networks who now support/allow the FM chip on http://freeradioonmyphone.ca/ Only Rogers and Bell do it now.
There is a list of phones supported by NextRadio app on http://nextradioapp.ca/supported-devices/
Interestingly, my daughter's Sony Xperia Z1 which originally supported FM chip on board, stopped during an update a few years back pushed down when it was locked to Rogers.
I recently loaned it to my sister in law on her visit - it is now unlocked - we reset it to factory, and low and behold the FM chip worked again. No idea why, but that now gives me 4 devices in my collection of BB's and androids that support FM - they are my old fashioned MP3 player, fm radio, recording devices, as you can record the FM stream on some.
Plus can listen to FM with no data and battery lasts for ever.
So my Sony now is my sports tracking device, my FM radio, and MP3 player -that is it. I used my newer LGG4 for phone use and communications and since the new Google Fit doesn't work properly, I run that app on my old phone. Still have no data, have no use for it, but get full use for my phone.
Only things that I can't do without data - WIFI calling - could benefit with it, but just wait for a better signal and if people can't get me, they leave a message - I only make about 20 calls sent and received per month, so not an issue if people can't get me briefly. I just tell people where I am, you know like the old days.
I also can't use VOLTE - again, doesn't matter to me, my wife has it, I don't notice any difference.
So, if you get one of the phones on the list, try NextRadio, it is supposed to work. If it doesn't on one of the designated devices, then I suggest you contact tech support, refer them to the web sites in question, and ask why, open a ticket and escalate if necessary. Have them turn it on, or explain why their position is opposite from the publically posted information from a company working world wide and they say both Rogers and Bell support/allow the chip to function.
Guess enough pressure - they also run a campaign on how to promote FM radio as well as the benefits of data radio so that carriers are providing the best tools to all customers.
No reason why carriers have to feel that they are losing revenue on data based media provision, while providing full emergency reporting and best satisfaction by customer - there are things that FM cannot provide - like on demand music, search and download, etc. But don't disable our ability to have access to emergency information. Ottawa area was without cell towers for two areas in some areas, just last week, but the radio stations were still on air.