Fort Gordon offers apology but no compensation for malfunctioning garage door remotes

Friday, June 14, 2013 2:08 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 15, 2013 1:53 AM
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Fort Gordon apologized to the more than 500 homeowners in the Augusta area who have experienced problems with their garage door remotes while the post tests an emergency radio system, but added the military won’t help residents pay to counteract the inconvenience.

The post said in a statement Friday that the frequencies through which the openers operate have been reserved for the U.S. military since World War II and that neither the installation nor the Defense Department can compensate homeowners for repairs.

“Unfortunately, many commercial garage door owners use these frequencies on an unlicensed basis,” Fort Gordon Public Affairs Officer J.C. Mathews said. “As the licensed user of these radio frequencies, neither Fort Gordon nor the Defense Department can compensate homeowners for the repair, modification, retrofit, or replacement of garage door openers.”

The post’s new land-mobile radio system aims to enhance communication with firefighters, paramedics and police officers across the region.

Fort Gordon plans to resume testing next week, which Mathews said could produce interference to garage door openers between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

The base halted testing Tuesday to ensure the public was informed of the transmission timeline after receiving reports of interference with garage door openers.

Phones lines at the Overhead Door Co. of Augusta were swamped last weekend when more than 500 homeowners, some in Evans who live as far as 15 miles from Fort Gordon, called to complain of remotes not working and sometimes taking seven or eight attempts to trigger the door, manager Billy Sheppard said.

“During the testing period (June 17-21), and certainly after the system is permanently turned on (July 15), some electronic garage door openers may not operate normally at all times,” Mathews said.

Mathews said no testing is planned from June 22 to July 15. However, the system will permanently resume operation July 15.

The U.S. armed forces is licensed to use the lower-level frequencies through which garage-door remotes operate, particularly for land-mobile radio systems that are necessary for communicating with firefighters, law enforcement officers and paramedics on military bases and installations, according to the rules of the Federal Communication Commission.

Sheppard said in many instances retrofit kits, which are available in stores and online, will repair the problem, preventing owners from having to purchase and install anew unit for as much as $500.

“Fort Gordon had intended to provide advance notification to the public before the transition, but the testing began earlier than expected,” Mathews said. “We hope this additional information about the timeline for testing and the pause in testing between June 22 and July 15 will give local homeowners time and opportunity to make modifications to their garage door systems or choose other solutions before the upgraded LMR system permanently begins transmitting.”

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Riverman1 06/14/13 - 03:10 pm
Careful. You push your garage

Careful. You push your garage door opener and you may shoot a missile or something.

seenitB4 06/14/13 - 04:57 pm
I don't get it

15 miles away & it still messes up a garage door...

Darby 06/14/13 - 06:06 pm
"Careful. You push your garage door opener

and you may shoot a missile or something."

Just give me a joystick. I know just where I'd like that rocket to land.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/14/13 - 07:09 pm
Pay and Pay

The city of Augusta should have refused to pay the woman's tire alignment bill after she hit an Augusta street pothole. Now that they have paid her, the precedent has been set. The sky's the limit. Every front end alignment done in Augusta in the foreseeable future will be submitted to the city clerk for reimbursement.

soapy_725 06/15/13 - 07:38 am
The manufacturers and installers who sold illegal

frequencies for everyday use should be made to pay for the retrofit. it was their responsibility to know the FCC rules. Remember all of those warnings on the "radio controlled cars and planes".

Dixieman 06/15/13 - 02:21 pm

...since these frequencies have been assigned to the military since WWII and the garage door opener companies have been making unauthorized use of them, why not look to those companies for compensation?

I think the more interesting question is if by pressing my remote I can now launch something toward Pyongyang.

szymke 06/15/13 - 09:05 am
Solution to this problem

There's a new product, called the HiQ automation iOpener that was just launched June 1st. It uses Bluetooth, not the rf radio that's been causing so many issues to the community. The iOpener allows you to open your garage door with your smartphone. There's currently an Android version, and there's an iPhone version coming along soon. This device attaches to your existing garage lifter - and should allow anyone having problems with the radio interference to open their doors without any issue.

bdouglas 06/15/13 - 09:05 pm

That's an interesting concept. The only issue I can see is that Bluetooth only has an effective range of about 30-40 ft. People tend to expect their 'normal' garage remotes to work 1-3 houses away most of the time so it's open when they get to the door. This would mean the opener wouldn't work until the phone (and thus, car) is right in front of the door. Add to that the fact that Bluetooth isn't an "always on" connection. It's always 'sniffing', so to speak, for a connection and connects once it finds itself in range, but it's not instantaneous. Seems like a cool idea to have in addition to normal remotes, but not so much a replacement to me.

nocnoc 06/16/13 - 02:29 pm
WOW ! I Learned something new

WOW ! I Learned something new today.
Or did I?

I challenge the WWII date, given the fact that EVERY RF DEVICE in the USA must be FCC approved how can a USA FCC Approved Garage Door opener, use a reserved DOD frequency?

Looking a 2005 and other FCC dated doc's I have.....

Consumers May Experience Interference To Their Garage Door Opener Controls Near Military Bases
Press Contact:
Bruce Romano: 202-418-2124

DA 05-424
February 15, 2005
"... 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. "

So it wasn't 1940's WWII it was in 2005 involving Homeland Security and the DA/DOD.

In 2001
285-322 MHz Intermittent Control Signals Garage Door Openers

335.4-399.9 64.5 FIXED

Was someone is trying to dazzle with us with authoritative sounding Bovis stercus, or are the FCC and DA memo's wrong?

Note: I reserve the right to be proven wrong.

bdouglas 06/16/13 - 10:01 pm

"... given the fact that EVERY RF DEVICE in the USA must be FCC approved how can a USA FCC Approved Garage Door opener, use a reserved DOD frequency?"

Your own link to the site explains that in plain English:

"The FCC has long permitted devices employing relatively low level radio frequency signals (“Part 15 devices”), such as garage door openers, cordless telephones, personal computers, and computer peripherals, to be operated without the need for a spectrum license. While such operations are unlicensed, the devices themselves are not unregulated. The FCC’s rules require that the manufacturer or importer of such devices (the “responsible party”) obtain equipment authorization before marketing any such device in order to minimize the potential for harmful radiofrequency interference."

The garage door openers don't interfere with anything, so they get approved by the FCC once tested. The military is the one doing the 'interfering', however, their interference is licensed and legal activity. The military was allocated the frequencies in question in the WWII era. The memo you mention in 2005 was simply a reminder that "Hey, we are the legal owners of these frequencies and have developed a need to use them now because of Homeland Security you might start experiencing interference."

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