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Wireless Networking United States Hardware

Air Force Jams Garage Doors 335

SonicSpike points us to a Chicago Tribune article reporting that in Colorado the Air Force is jamming garage doors. In a joint U.S.-Canadian operation, they were testing communications on a frequency that would be used by first responders in the event of a threat to homeland security. From the article: "But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the area found that theirs had suddenly stopped working... 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."
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Air Force Jams Garage Doors

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  • Re:Technically??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Feyr ( 449684 ) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @08:27PM (#17084854) Journal
    the problem here is that those garage doors openers are unlicensed transmitters using a band they wouldn't be allowed to use if it wasn't for the "low power" exceptions. if they'd put their transmitters on a public band or gotten a license, they wouldn't have this problem
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @08:44PM (#17085024) Journal

    I wager these garage doors have that little notice on them, you know, the one that says "this is an FCC class B(?) device... must not interfere, must accept any such interference, blah, blah, blah...". The manufacturer can stand behind that. It's CYA compliant, probably, from a legal standpoint. It's definitely not PR compliant. I don't see this so much as a problem with the Air Force trampling on our rights, as a company that took a gamble that there would never be any powerful interference that would mess with their device. Usually there isn't.

    All that aside, USAF should either stop using the frequency or offer to refund a retrofit of existing doors--whichever is cheaper. I can also foresee the mfct recalling the doors; but if they do that they probably have no recourse with the government. After all, they knew they were taking a chance by producing such a device. And then the garage door people could start using ultrasonic or infrared, with a crypto key of some kind between the receiver and transmitter to guarantee non-interference, and that would be that.

    This is just another reason for me to be happy I don't have a car, nevermind a garage.

  • Re:Technically??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 02, 2006 @08:45PM (#17085050)
    Its not that at all. When they purchased those devices, they were licences under Part 15. Which states, A. the device must accept harmfull interferance B. the device cannot emmit any harmfull interference. They are a secondary user of those frequencies, and funciton is not garanteed on those frequencies for those devices by the FCC. Its like when my ham radio equipment interfears with the naibors baby monitor. The first problem is i'm not even using the frequency it uses, just one close to it, and the poor design and construction of the device comes into play. Second of all, I fall under part 97 rules, which allows me to generate some levels of interference, so long as it is 120db down from my primart transmitting frequency, i'm legal.

    This has nothing to do with rights, there never were any rights to those frequencies for the public, they were never anything more than a secondary user.
  • Re:Technically??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Atlantis-Rising ( 857278 ) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @11:07PM (#17085936) Homepage
    However, the spectrum is licensed by the FCC as part of the public airwaves. A powerful case could be made that the government should give that spectrum up to garage door owners, because they get more public use out of it.

    After all, the government really doesn't need it, and garage doors are already using it.

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?