Broadcasters, wireless firms at odds over radio tuners in cell phones

They also said FM chips are already available and "could easily penetrate the marketplace during the typical 22-month churn of cellular handsets." The total cost for adding an FM tuner to cellphones is about $1 per handset, they said.

CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group, favors the text-messaging system over the FM broadcast system. In a letter sent to House and Senate Commerce Committee leaders in June, CTIA said requiring mobile devices to constantly monitor the airwaves for emergency alerts would cause greatly diminish battery life.

CTIA also said an Advisory Committee set up by the FCC to evaluate different technologies for an alert system had already recommended the text-message method and it had been approved by the agency.

"Now--more than 19 months after the completion of the Advisory Committee's efforts--broadcasters are raising an eleventh hour argument that FM chipsets should be placed into commercial wireless devices for emergency alerts," the letter said. "Yet significant technological and practical problems associated with the use of FM for such purposes remain."