First it Was Garage Door Openers, Now it’s Wireless Internet

Wireless Internet networks are finding their way in homes, offices and public spaces all across the country, but Eglin Air Force officials say some networks could interfere with aircraft tracking radar. Eglin hopes to keep a big problem from getting worse.

Several months ago during a flight test, Eglin Air Force radar lost track of one of its aircraft due to interference. It happened several times.

The culprit appears to be a high speed wireless Internet network installed in a Destin condo. It used the same frequency as Eglin's radar.

The problem has now been fixed and Air Force officials want to keep such interference from happening again.

"We're trying to be proactive. What we don't want is another garage door incident and keep the public systems operating."

Last year new Eglin radios interfered with nearby garage door openers, randomly opening and closing doors. This new problem involves devices that operate in the 5.6 to 5.9 GHz range and includes wireless networks and cell phones.

“We found some locally that we're being sold in this band as well as the high speed Internet, so if we can stay from avoid use of this band I think everybody will be fined.”

If your home wireless network uses the “802.22b” “8092.22g” standard you've nothing to worry about. Only 802.11a devices operate in the 5 GHz range which is not as common.

As for cell phones, most use frequencies around 800 MHz, but be sure to ask your service provider on which band your phone operates.

Two other bases out west use the same radar as Eglin, but they're in the desert. Eglin’s radars are located on the east and west of the reservation, and there are communities close by, which means fixing this problem will require everyone working together.

Only the Department of Defense and amateur radio operators are licensed to use frequencies in the 5 GHz range.