Military Frequency Jams Garage Doors

Homeowners up in arms: U.S. military frequency jams hundreds of
garage doors

Homeowners up in arms: U.S. military frequency jams hundreds of garage doors ROBERT WELLER DENVER (AP) -

What do remote-control garage door openers have to do with national security? A lot, it seems. A secretive U.S. air force facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., tested a radio frequency this past week that it would use to communicate with first responders in the event of a homeland security threat.

But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the surrounding area found their garage doors had suddenly stopped working.

“It would have been nice not to have to get out of the car and open the door manually,” said Dewey Rinehard, pointing out that the outage happened during the first cold snap of the year when temperatures fell well below freezing.

Capt. Tracy Giles of the 21st Space Wing said air force officials were trying to figure out how to resolve the problem of their signal overpowering garage door remotes.

“They (military officials) have turned it off to be good neighbours,” he said.

The signals were coming from Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, home to the North American Aerospace Defence Command, a joint U.S. and Canadian operation set up during the Cold War to monitor Soviet missile and bomber threats.

Technically, the air force has the right to the frequency, which it began using nearly three years ago at some bases. Signals have previously interfered with garage doors near bases in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In general, effects from the transmissions would be felt only within 15 kilometres, but the Colorado Springs signal is beamed from atop 1,855-metre Cheyenne Mountain, which likely extends the range.
Holly Strack, who lives near the entrance to the facility, said friends in the neighbourhood all had the same problem.

“I never thought my garage door was a threat to national security,” she said.

David McGuire, whose Overhead Door Co. received more than 400 calls for help, said the air force may be able to slightly adjust the transmission frequency to solve the problem. If not, it will cost homeowners about **US$250 apiece to have new units installed. **