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Sprint first carrier to sign on to FM radio service

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Sprint announced a preliminary arrangement with American radio industry representatives that will enable customers to listen to local FM radio stations on their mobile phones.

Sprint said it will be the first time a U.S. wireless carrier would offer the ability to directly access local FM radio on their phones. Consumers currently can listen to radio on their smartphones but only by streaming the station over the Internet.

The new service will be delivered through the NextRadio tuner application, expected to be available later this year. Other applications will eventually follow. Only certain Android and Windows phones will be able to use the service.

Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, acted as principal negotiator for the radio industry in arranging the deal with Sprint.

"Today is a remarkable day for our industry," Smulyan said in a prepared statement. "I am gratified by the unity I have seen in our industry. It seems every broadcaster I know has supported this effort."

Smulyan said Emmis and the National Association of Broadcasters developed the tuner and have spent several years trying to persuade cellphone providers to use it.

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  • Tuner
    An "app" that lets you listen to FM radio generally is streaming the audio and therefore eats data time. An FM tuner on a wireless device receives the FM signal directly over the air, with no need to use the internet. It's like a "transistor radio".
  • Smartphone
    I have had an FM app downloaded to my Iphone since the start of the NFL season for as I did that to listen to the Colts broadcast while at the game. The only problem was that the radio was delayed from the on field. The FM app has stations from around the country.
  • FM
    Actually Sprint is not the first. ATT distributed Nokia Lumia phones have featured FM tuners since last year.

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