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Aug 1, 2012 3:27 AM

New Army radio system causing electronics interference problems in Sierra Vista

SIERRA VISTA - Some remotes for vehicles are not working. Neither are some of the remotes which operate garage doors.

That has been among the complaints from some local residents during the past couple of days.

However, federal officials of the Government Accounting Office, the Federal Communications Commission and Fort Huachuca are saying the frequencies being used by makers of remote vehicle and garage door openers are specifically available for use Department of Defense.

The issue goes back to 2005 when it was broached to the GAO and during the same year the FCC addressed the problem.

Fort Huachuca Public Affairs Officer Angela Moncur said, "Radio frequency interference to car remotes and garage door openers is not a new issue for the Department of Defense."

The frequency band used for wireless devices such as car remotes and garage door openers is licensed to the Department of Defense by the Federal Communications Commission, Moncur said. The DOD and certainly the Army at Fort Huachuca, have a significant number of radio frequencies allocated and licensed for use on the post, she added.

"While it may be possible for our licensed use to have bleed over or interference with these devices locally, it is not possible to predict in advance which specific users or locations may experience interference due to the variety of technical characteristics of car remotes and garage door openers," Moncur said.

According to news reports, recently something similar happened to residents living near a Navy installation in Connecticut, involving the testing of military authorized frequencies which interfered with vehicle and garage door remotes. In 2005, the GAO was approached by a U.S. representative who chaired a House committee with concerns of potential interference associated with military land mobile radios.

The GAO responded that radios operating between 380 and 399.9 Megahertz do so in an area which is only authorized to be used by the military. However, the report noted garage door openers using part of the same reserved frequencies do so as "unlicensed devices," and doing so means "they must accept any interference from authorized spectrum users."

While initially the problem was with remote garage door openers, with newer technology it has spread to those remote vehicle devices as well. No further GAO report on the subject has been requested or done since the report was issued on Dec. 1 2005, a GAO spokesman said Friday.

But even earlier in 2005, on Feb. 15, the FCC put out a public notice titled: "Consumers May Experience Interference to their Garage Door Controls Near Military Bases. The notice stated that for such civilian remote devices, while operating legally under part of the commission rules at a very low power on an unlicensed basis on frequencies reserved for the federal government since World War II, "there is not right to protection from interference."

But in today's world, the use of the frequencies by the federal government has increased, the document states.

"In response to the increased needs of homeland security, the Department of Defense now must make more use of these frequencies to deploy new mobile radio systems on and around certain military bases," the Feb. 15, 2005 public notice states.

Fort Huachuca is the home of a number of technology-based organizations, including the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the Electronic Proving Ground, the Network Enterprise Technology Command, the Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command and other units such as the Intelligence Warfare Test Directorate.

The document also noted it is difficult to predict in advance which specific users or locations near military bases may experience interference.

"For security reasons, the Department of Defenses cannot make information broadly available to the deployment of new mobile radio systems," the notice states.


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