***UPDATED at 5:10 P.M. on Monday, June 10th***
Widespread problems involving garage door openers are now affecting the CSRA. The problem is affecting 40 million people around the country...and thousands of homeowners here in Augusta.
We have been tracking down information on this problem all day Monday and we learned that garage door openers use a frequency that is not licensed. That means...the frequency is up for grabs...
As part of the U.S. Department of Defense's new state of the art communication system, the military has taken over the unlicensed frequencies which are mostly used by garage door remote openers, cordless phones, and even baby monitors. But, what's deemed a help for military safety is a headache for local neighbors.
People in one typically quiet Augusta neighborhood have been clamoring over a problem that can't be seen or heard...but it's left a bad feeling.
"It was in the whole neighborhood. The guy up on the corner about two or three people in this block was complaining. Next door, the guy was complaining," says homeowner William Bell.
Bell is among thousands of local residents who started having problems remotely opening their garages last Wednesday. It turns out, new frequency activity has rendered their remotes useless...shutting the door on their wireless access.
Garage door repair businesses like Overhead Door Company, in Augusta, were warned about the potential problem years ago. However, Steve Garrett says they were told WHAT could happen...but not WHEN...
"At the time that notification was sent out, we didn't experience problems, so we thought we were fine. Since last Wednesday, we were swamped with several calls," says Garrett.
We contacted Fort Gordon about the problem. In a statement, the command says, "Garage door openers operate on 'unlicensed basis' within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on radio frequencies, known as FCC Part 15 rules. Because garage door openers operate as FCC Part 15 unlicensed devices, they must accept any interference that may occur from the authorized users of radio frequencies."
Garrett says the problem can be solved, though. "You've got two options: either use of an external receiver, or replacing the unit," he says.
For neighbors, that means amplified radio signals at Fort Gordon will lead to amplified inconvenience at home.
"I got to get out the car to open the garage door when I usually mash the button and it flies up," Bell says.
According to an FCC Public Notice, issued in 2005..."the garage door opener manufacturers will help consumers who are experiencing problems. In some cases...they will provide a replacement transmitter and receiver to operate on a different frequency."
***POSTED at 4:03 P.M. on Monday, June 10th***
If you live near Fort Gordon and have been having issues with your garage door opener? Fort Gordon officials may know why.
Read the text of the release below from the Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office:
"Unlicensed garage door openers near Fort Gordon may experience problems as local military radio systems transition to a new frequency range
Land mobile radios (LMR) used by the military at Fort Gordon and around the world are transitioning to use new frequencies, often the same frequency range used by some unlicensed consumer devices, such as garage door openers. This gradual transition has continued across the Defense Department since 2004; Fort Gordon began testing the system on the new frequencies last week.
Fort Gordon intended to conduct widespread public notifications on this transition; however, testing began earlier than expected.
Garage door openers operate on "unlicensed basis" within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on radio frequencies, known as FCC Part 15 rules. Because garage door openers operate as FCC Part 15 unlicensed devices, they must accept any interference that may occur from the authorized users of radio frequencies. Some manufacturers of garage door openers, deeming that their risks of interference are generally low, have chosen to operate on frequencies between 380 MHz and 399.9 MHz that have been reserved for the US government and military services since World War II. DoD and the US military are fully authorized to use these frequencies, particularly for LMR systems that are necessary for force protection, law enforcement, firefighting, transportation management, and emergency medical first responders on military bases and installations.
Consequently, some consumers located near military bases may occasionally experience radio frequency interference to their garage door openers which can temporarily reduce the operating range of the wireless controls or cause the wireless control to stop functioning. This interference will not cause the garage doors to open or close by themselves, but rather they will temporarily simply not operate wirelessly. However, the installed hard-wired controls inside or outside of the garages will not be affected whatsoever by radio frequency interference, and will continue to electrically open and close the doors normally.
According to FCC Public Notice DA 05-424 of February 15, 2005, the garage door opener manufacturers stand ready to help consumers resolve any interference to their systems, including, in some cases, making available for consumer purchase, a replacement transmitter and receiver to operate on a different frequency than that used by US government or military services and mobile radio systems.
Consumers who experience problems with the garage door openers should contact their manufacturer or local repair shops for assistance."
WJBF News Channel 6's Dee Griffin will have more on this issue during our Monday evening newscasts.
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