Monday, June 05, 2006

Base radio communications may interfere with some devices

From The Beam, Bolling AFB 27 Jan 2006

Base radio communications may interfere with some devices
by Senior Airman Alex Saltekoff
BEAM staff, 11th Wing Public Affairs

Bolling began testing a new land mobile radio system Jan. 3 to meet homeland defense needs and comply with government regulations.

The new system will operate on a different, narrower bandwidth and allow Bolling first responders to communicate with each other across the base. The new digital transmissions will also be encrypted.

When fully operational, the LMR system will allow Bolling to communicate with 25 military installations in the area, from Fort A.P. Hill, Va., to Fort Meade, Md., said Staff Sgt. Brian Taubel, 11th Communications Squadron LMR manager. Later, Bolling will have the ability to communicate with local fire, police and several government agencies using the same LMR system.

The Federal Communication Commission licensed the frequency of 225-400 MHz to the Department of Defense for communications. A law passed by Congress in 1992, a National Communications and Information Administration mandate in 1993, and a DOD policy in 2001 all required LMR systems to operate more efficiently by 2007.

The new policy asks DOD agencies to use a narrower bandwidth of 380-399.9 MHz. The LMR systems operating in this new frequency range will have priority over nonlicensed consumer radio devices that operate on the same frequencies, such as some garage door openers and keyless entry devices for cars. Consumer devices are allowed to operate on the 390 MHz band, as long as they do not interfere with licensed products and carry a warning label that states the device will accept any interference from the lawful users of the bandwidth.

During the initial installation of the LMR towers, a constant signal is broadcast for 30 days to test the new system, which affects a six-mile radius. While this signal is being broadcasted, some garage doors that operate on the 390 MHz frequency, as well as other devices that use that frequency within the radius, might fail to open because of the interference from the radio signal.

After this testing period, day-to-day operations and occasional tests of the system will be broadcast for short time periods, causing brief interference with 390 MHz radio devices.

Users of these unlicensed devices who experience significant levels of interference, or who desire to completely avoid potential interference, should contact their garage door manufacturer about a small kit that may be available that will change the frequency of their garage door.