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Local dealership interfering with cell service

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Making a call near South Grand Forks is difficult for some people -- as equipment at a nearby business is messing with your signal.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase tells us why the feds are getting involved.

It's the lights at Lithia Toyota in Grand Forks that the Federal Communications Commission says are interfering with signals from a Verizon tower across the street.

The feds have given the dealership the option of fixing the problem or paying a steep fine.

Verizon users --

"I thought they worked off of microwaves. That's what my assumption was," says James Jennings, Grand Forks resident.

-- are having trouble making calls at night, as this parking lot is lit up.

According to the Federal Communications Commission it's the light bulbs that are creating a problem.

"I would think somebody would notice a thing like that, that light would affect them," says Jennings.

Verizon customer, James Jennings, says he hasn't had any problems making calls.

But according to a report by the FCC -- the lights are quote, "causing harmful interference to radio communications."

The report says the bulbs are radiating radio frequencies at a level used by cell phones.

"I would think they had the technology that they wouldn't do something like that. And that wouldn't interfere but I don't know," says Jennings.  

The feds are asking the dealership to stop the interference -- giving the company two months to fix the issue, or pay more than a one hundred and twenty thousand dollars in fines.

"They might have to bite the bullet and take care of it," says Jennings.  

This problem was discovered nearly a year and a half ago.

Verizon tells us they had Lithia turn these lights off for one night, and they say, that fixed the problem.

But the company hasn't done anything since.

Today, the general manager refused an interview, but says they're now working with the FCC and Verizon.