Some Selah area residents noticed issues with malfunctioning garage door openers this week.

It’s a result of military exercises at the Yakima Training Center, where radio signals from large-scale military exercises are causing problems with older garage door openers.

“That has been a subject du jour,” said Mike Daniels, deputy to the garrison commander at the training center. “It turns out there’s a bit of an education issue for the residents.”

Bill Wallace, who lives on Ames Road, said his garage door opener is not working unless he’s standing directly underneath it, a problem that started earlier this week.

He said at least one of his neighbors is experiencing similar issues, and it’s been a topic of conversation on community Facebook pages.

Marcus McDonald, manager of Yakima Overhead Door, had no doubt about the cause of the interference.

“It’s what’s happening out at the training center,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve gotten like 30 calls this morning.”

McDonald said the problem is caused by radio interference. The military is using the same frequencies as garage door openers, he said, and the much more powerful military signals prevail.

The U.S. Army’s Joint Modernization Command is conducting its annual Joint Warfighting Assessment at the center, where soldiers are field-testing robotic vehicles and other new technology.

A full Stryker brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord — a motorized infantry force — is participating in the exercise, which adds to the electronic interference, Daniels said.

Many garage door openers operate as what the government calls “unlicensed transmitters” that operate between 380-399.9 megahertz. That spectrum has belonged to the Department of Defense since shortly after World War II, but was rarely used.

In 2005, the frequencies were assigned to the defense and Homeland Security departments, Daniels said. Since older garage-door openers are unlicensed transmitters, they are required to accept any interference generated by those licensed to use the frequency.

The training center has placed a notice about the issue on its Facebook page.

McDonald said it’s not unusual for radio interference to happen near military facilities, adding the problem should go away as soon as the exercises wrap up.

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