Military signals 'closed-door' policy on Georgia garage doors

Residential garage doors are malfunctioning near Fort Gordon, Georgia, after an Army communications update.

Story highlights

  • New communication system installed at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia
  • Military: Radio signals interfere with frequency of wireless garage door remote control
  • Some residents complain the base gave no prior notice of possible interference
It may not be keeping track of your phone calls, but one government agency may be keeping your garage door shut.
A recent radio communications update at the U.S. Army's Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia, reportedly is causing hundreds of nearby residents to have difficulty accessing their garages.
The new radio system operates at the same radio frequency needed to operate automatic garage door remotes, the military said. The frequency update caused garage doors to be unresponsive to owner remote controls.
Residents report trying several methods, including replacing the remote's battery, to get the controls to work. The Augusta Chronicle reports that up to 500 residents have put in complaints with the Overhead Door Co. of Augusta because of the sudden malfunction.
"On Sunday, I came home, sat in front of the garage in my car and pressed the remote seven or eight times before the door finally opened," Jason Milford told the Chronicle. "I was not even 10 feet away."
The newspaper also noted the new system was installed for updating emergency communications, and that the complaints of nonresponsive garage doors come from up to 15 miles away from Fort Gordon.
Fort Gordon is the home of the U.S. Army Signal Regiment and is a site of leading communication development for the Army. It employs 15,717 military and 7,112 civilians and boasts of several partnerships with the Augusta community.
However, this incident has frustrated some residents, who complained about the lack of advance notice about the installation.
A spokesman from the base said warnings were planned, but the system was up and running quicker than anticipated.
"Fort Gordon intended to conduct widespread public notifications on this transition; however, testing began earlier than expected," spokesman Buz Yarnell said in a statement.
Yarnell's statement notes that frequencies between 380 megahertz and 399.9 megahertz have been reserved for government and military uses since World War II, though manufacturers of garage door remotes may choose to use these frequencies if they think there is low risk of interference. As a result, those near military bases may experience interference on occasion.
The Federal Communications Commission categorize garage door openers as operating on an "unlicensed basis" of radio frequencies, the statement said, and must "accept any interference that may occur from the authorized users of radio frequencies."
The interference is not a cause for safety or privacy concerns; it will not open garage doors but temporarily keeps the remotes from working.
The Augusta paper reported that interference has been reported in other places since 2004, including California, Connecticut and Texas.
For now, residents experiencing interference can wait for Fort Gordon to fix the issue, or shell out $150 to $500 for new systems that can withstand the interference, according to the paper.