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First Look: goTenna Allows Easier Backcountry Communication

Surely there has been a time when you were in the woods with no cell phone service but a need to communicate. Enter goTenna.

goTenna is a small, rugged device designed to make “No Service” no problem. Just pair your smartphone with a goTenna and communicate off-grid with those near you who also have goTenna, regardless of access to cell reception or wi-fi. goTenna allows you to send and receive texts and share GPS locations on offline maps, without ever relying on central connectivity.

Of course there are other uses beyond remote areas, like when traveling, attending busy music or sporting events, or during an emergency. Plus, because goTenna is end-to-end encrypted, it’s not just for when you’re off-grid, but when you want to be.

First Look: goTenna Allows Easier Backcountry Communication

How does it work? Pair your Apple or Android smartphone to your goTenna device wirelessly using Bluetooth Low-Energy (BTLE). Your goTenna needs to be within 20ish feet of your phone, so that the two can communicate with each other. Use our free app to type out a text message or share a location. Your smartphone will send the message to your goTenna, which will then shoot it out, via long-range radio waves (151-154 MHz), to the intended goTenna(s). At the other end, the exact same thing happens, in reverse: the recipient goTenna sends your message over BTLE to the smartphone app its paired with. All of this happens in a matter of milliseconds. Each network is totally private so there isn’t any interference or overlap (like what is experienced with a walkie-talkie).

Your goTenna will be able to transmit to any goTenna user within range. What kind of range can you expect? That's greatly dependent on your geography. goTenna’s range can go up to 50 miles.

First Look: goTenna Allows Easier Backcountry Communication

goTenna works even with the phone in airplane mode. Its rugged molded nylon and metal hardshell is weather-resistant and easily attaches to other gear. The lithium-ion battery power supply can be recharged with any micro-USB cable and lasts 2-3 days of normal usage, meaning you have it on when you need to and turn it off when you don’t (e.g. when you’re sleeping). If it’s on 24/7, it will last 30 hours or so. If off, it will hold its charge for about a year and a half.

What are the limitations? Well, aside from the maximum 50 mile range and the need for both parties to have a goTenna, you need your phone to send and see received messages, so your phone will have to be charged too. The goTenna can continue to receive messages without your phone being paired, though. In such a case the goTenna would store your messages for upload to your phone the next time you connect.

You can pre-order at www.gotenna.com for a limited time at 50% off the retail price of $300 per pair.

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