News outlets are reporting on the "preliminary arrangement" reached between Sprint and radio broadcasters to receive local FM stations on certain smartphones. As TRDaily reported on January 8:
The announcement makes Sprint the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer its customers the ability to access local FM radio on several of its devices. Radio stations would be accessed through the NextRadio tuner application or using other radio apps or services, the company said. The NextRadio app tuner is expected to be made available later this year.
Of course, there are other existing options for wireless consumers seeking access to radio broadcast content. As pointed out in the New York Times' Media Decoder blog:
Radio stations are already widely available on phones through streaming apps like TuneIn and Clear Channel Communications’s iHeartRadio, which offer not only local stations but also thousands from around the world.
Sprint's arrangement with radio broadcasters should hopefully put to rest the occasional lobbying efforts to require wireless carriers or handset manufacturers to install and activate AM/FM radio chipsets in mobile devices. I briefly addressed this subject in a September 2010 blog post and explained why "Government Shouldn't Design Devices in Dynamic Markets."
Free market bargaining – as witnessed in Sprint's deal – and technological alternatives – including streaming apps – render any wireless chipset device regulation completely unjustifiable. (Don't forget that consumers can also buy radios if they want.)