GoTenna, has a developed a very unique approach to communicating. They have designed a solution that allows you to use your mobile device in areas with no cell service.
GoTenna is a 6-inch antenna, sold in pairs, that can be hung from a backpack, purse or belt. It pairs via Bluetooth to Android and IOS mobile devices. It uses their messaging client app to transmit text messages and GPS location data over 151-154 MHz (The Multi-Use Radio Band or MURS), to one, or more, GoTennas paired with other mobile devices.
Why not just use MURS Walkie-Talkies?
While the GoTenna may be more expensive than some sets of MURS handheld walkie-talkies, it does give you some advantages over them.
- You can send text-style messages to one device, or a group of devices simultaneously.
- No talking = No sound, so if you need to remain silent, GoTenna has you covered.
- You can send your GPS location to other GoTenna devices, in your meshed network. These coordinates can be viewed on the Go-Tenna’s downloadable, high-resolution offline maps.
- Multiple devices can send and receive messages at the same time, with walkie-talkies, you normally can’t hear while transmitting.
- GoTenna’s messages don’t touch the internet. They can only be intercepted using a radio scanner. All GoTenna communications are encrypted using 384-bit elliptic curve encryption, so even if the signal is intercepted, it should be gibberish.
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The range of the GoTenna can vary greatly depending on the environment and terrain. These were our results. Based on your local terrain and environment, your mileage will vary!
Open and Flat terrain
GoTenna’s signals claims around nine miles in an open environment. We did achieve almost 4 miles. Thank you, western Ohio, for being so flat.
The rest of the World’s terrain
When operating in a a more hilly and densely wooded area, the signal seems to drop off around 2-3 miles.
In dense urban environments, we were limited to much less than 2 miles, sometimes as low as 500 – 1000 meters.
Best case scenario terrain
The good news is that since this communicates on the MURS Band (151-154 MHz and limited power to 2 Watts), we can extrapolate that if someone was high enough and had a clear view of a horizon the signals could theoretically travel up to 50 miles.
My Personal Experience and Views
I have spent the last couple months using these devices to communicate on hikes, with my companions and from the trail back to camp. In these rural areas, you can get by with handheld walkie-talkies, but they don’t give you the ability to send your GPS location, nor to communicate without using your voice. This device would be essential should I fall into a ravine or am injured and need someone to come get me now!
When disaster strikes or the unexpected happens, standard communication mechanisms can become overwhelmed, preventing you from contacting essential people. GoTenna fills the gap to provide a secure method of mesh communications between mobile device in areas with no cell service!