The latest breed of radar detectors used by speeding motorists is crashing small satellite data systems across the US.
Richard Dalbello, executive director of the Satellite Industry Association, told Associated Press journalists that the radar detectors were causing a major problem by disrupting credit card transactions, music systems, ATM machines, weather broadcasts, paging networks and stock trades.
For years there had been no problem with this sort of technology because it operated on different frequencies.
However, detector makers have recently customised their units for the nearby satellite band to evade more sophisticated police radar guns which can spot illegal detectors.
Radar detectors have not been subject to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interference limits because, as receivers, they emit a small amount of radio waves.
Interference problems were sporadic but, with the increasing sales of the latest units, the problems have become very real.
ChevronTexaco has already approached the FCC claiming that interference at pay-at-the-pump credit card terminals is resulting in lost or incorrect sales.
Sometimes retailers do not get paid. Fast-food outlets and convenience stores have reported that satellite muzak systems have been disrupted at as many as 200,000 retail locations.
Several pilots have been unable to get weather updates because of radar detectors in airport employees' cars.
The detector makers say they are switching back to the old frequency, and that 73 per cent of newly made units will be compliant.
However, this will not stop the millions of detectors that are already on the shelves or the roads causing problems for wireless networks.
An FCC spokesman said that it is investigating the matter and that it could order the makers to upgrade the new units more quickly. It is unlikely that it would order a product recall.
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