June 11, 2013

New radios at Army base jamming garage doors


Associated Press

AUGUSTA — A new radio system being installed at a Georgia Army base is frustrating hundreds of homeowners in the Augusta area who have been locked out of their garages because of jammed remote-control signals.

The confusion began last week, when Fort Gordon upgraded its land-mobile radios to a 390 megahertz bandwidth, the same frequency used in automatic garage door remotes, The Augusta Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/13TQsag ).

Since then, nearly 500 residents have called or visited the Overhead Door Co. of Augusta to complain about garage doors that fail to open and close on command.

Most complaints have been reported along Gordon Highway, faulty remotes have been encountered as far as 15 miles away from Fort Gordon, said Billy Sheppard, the service manager at the company.

Fort Gordon spokesman Buz Yarnell said in a statement Monday that the Army post intended to conduct widespread public notifications on the transition but testing began earlier than expected.

Under Federal Communications Commission guidelines, owners of consumer gadgets are considered “unlicensed users” and must yield to military operations.

Garage door remotes, baby monitors and cordless phones have been legally using the radio frequencies for more than 40 years.

In recent years, though, the Department of Defense been gradually upgrading its radio networks, increasing its activity on local bandwidths. That has created problems in military communities.

In April, the installation of a stronger radio signal at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah knocked out hundreds of residential garage-door remotes.

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Information from: The Augusta Chronicle , http://www.augustachronicle.com