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Seal Beach navy transmitters interfere with garage doors

May 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Radio interference from U.S. Navy transmitters controlled garage door openers near the Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach.

Garage doors in the neighborhood were suddenly opening and closing by themselves.

"It's a little weird having your garage door open, your garage door close, and that kind of thing," said Seal Beach resident Jim Rutledge.

The answer was just about half a mile away at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. A new communications system used by the military were on the same frequency as the garage door openers. This has happened near other bases all over the country.

The Federal Communications Commission released a statement: "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."

Andy Turner says he kept clicking his transmitter but the garage door simply wouldn't open.

"Got up one morning," said Turner. "Came out to open the door and it wouldn't open. So I changed the batteries and it wouldn't work."

Garage door remotes operate on an unlicensed basis on frequencies that were reserved for the federal government. According to base officials: "Because garage door openers are unlicensed devices, they are not offered any protection from interference by licensed users in the same frequency band, and in fact are required by federal law to accept interference from licensed users."

Garage door manufacturers sell kits so you can change the frequency, but people in the neighborhood say it's not worth the bother.

"You just learn to deal with it," said Rutledge. "We live on a great block. It doesn't seem to be a problem. It doesn't scare me or anything like that."

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