Garage-Door Opener Doesn't Work? Blame the Navy!

Nothing says "I'm an American" like pulling up to your house in a big Ford Expedition, opening the garage door with a remote, and parking that gargantuan chariot inside, safely avoiding any chance of a conversation with the neighbors.

But what if I were to tell you that that patriotic right was under attack by none other than the U.S. military?

Actually, that patriotic right is not so much under attack by the military as by a lack of available radio-frequency channels.

This morning, The Herald's Debra Smith posted a short blurb about how her garage-door opener wasn't working, and that she had heard it might have something to do with the USS Abraham Lincoln being docked at Naval Base Kitsap.

Turns out she's right.

We asked Naval Base Kitsap spokesperson Chief Dale Davis if there is any truth to Smith's inclination.

"What's actually occurring is that there are some brands of garage-door openers that use a frequency that's owned by the Navy," Davis says. "When we test equipment used at sea, it can cause problems with some garage-door openers."

Davis didn't know what specific opener bands are most affected or whether the issues were mainly involved with the Lincoln.

A cursory search of news coverage concerning the phenomenon, however, shows that it's fairly widespread.

The Press-Enterprise has a detailed piece from May of this year that reports one man's Genie-brand opener quit working until he changed to a Craftsman brand and switched the frequency from 390 MHZ to 315 MHZ.

The paper also blamed the issue on the Navy crowding out the garage-door frequencies, as opposed to the other way around.

Because of technological advances in the past decade, wireless companies, GPS systems and the military have been gobbling up available frequencies. As a result, the FCC said, the military is increasingly using its reserved frequencies occupied by the garage-door remotes.

Davis tells Seattle Weekly that Naval Base Kitsap sends out notices to members of the nearby communities informing them of possible disruption in garage-opening technology when necessary, but that they inevitably get calls from people "once they connect the two."

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