Air Force frequency jams Denver garage door openers

Published 5 December 2006

Emergency band shares frequency with remote control devices; altitude at Cheyenne Mountain means thousands effected; Air Force will try to tweak transmission, otherwise Denverites will have to buy new garage door openers

Garage door openers may not be the most complex piece of technology in the modern home (or car) but their owners expect them to work, especially during the winter. That is why Denver residents were so surprised last month when all of a sudden their remote control devices stopped functioning. They shook them, but that did not work. Then they changed the battery, but that did not work either. Finally they received an explanation: 50 million garage door openers nationwide share a radio frequency with Air Force emergency responders, and a local base was putting its personnel through some paces. The garage door openers had been jammed. “I never thought my garage door was a threat to national security,” said one confused Denverite.

The same frequency has disrupted garage door openers in Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, but the Colorado case presents a more serious problem because of the altitude. The signals are coming from atop 1,885-meter tall Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, home to the North American Aerospace Defence Command, which results in transmission distances further than the fifteen kilometers the frequency typically has. The Air Force has temporarily suspended its tests until the issue is resolved — hopefully by slightly adjusting the transmission frequency. If that does not work, homeowners will have to pay $250 to have new garage door openers installed.

-read more in this Canadian Press report