goTenna lets you communicate without cell towers, Wifi or satellites

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 18, 2014
Updated • May 23, 2018
Mobile Computing

If you want to use your smartphone for communication, you either have to be connected to a network of sorts to do so, or use short-range communication technologies such as Bluetooth to do so.

There are however situations where all of these communication options become unavailable. Say you are on a camping trip in the wilderness and lost a group member.

Chance is, you don't have any reception and since that group member is not close by, all the close-range options are not working as well.

A new device that goes by the name of goTenna could be the solution. It enables you to communicate without the need to be connected to a communication network, be it satellite, wifi or mobile data, so that you can remain in contact with others without that.

It is a device that connects via Bluetooth-LE to your smartphone. For that, it needs to be within 20 feet range of the device for the communication to work.

Use specially crafted apps such as a text messaging application to send messages using goTenna. This works by using the app on your smartphone which then sends it to the goTenna device which in turn sends it out using long-radio waves.

The recipient needs to have a goTenna device as well for this to work, but this is the only requirement.

How far?

You are probably wondering how far apart two people can be for the communication to work. The goTenna team has created an interactive app on the website which highlights that.

Range depends on several factors including height and environment. The max range appears to be about 50 miles but that requires you being at least 500ft above ground while the lowest range can drop to zero.

According to the goTenna team, the app assumes ideal conditions so that the "up to" range needs to be seen as a maximum and that ranges may differ greatly depending on the environment and conditions.

The application uses 1024-bit end-to-end encryption to ensure that messages and data cannot be read by anyone listening in on the frequency. The device comes with Flash memory that can store thousands of messages, and a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.

Closing Words

The device is fairly pricey, at $149 and that is 50% off the normal price and only available during pre-order period. It may still be an interesting option for hunters, backpackers, other people who go off the grid at times and also for people who want to communicate using an app that may be harder to track than standard means of electronic communication.


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