goTenna Mesh is like a walkie-talkie on steroids. Designed essentially for off-grid group adventures, goTenna Mesh uses smart protocols and radio waves to connect to fellow Mesh users up to three miles (4.8 km). The range can be boosted up to 2-3 times that distance if you relay your signal through others. This is the magic of gTenna Mesh – the more users of its people-powered network the better connected the user becomes.
You can pair the goTenna Mesh with your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth and the device creates its own signal. From there, connect with any other goTenna in the area. You can extend your signal reach by playing leapfrog with other goTenna devices widening your connectivity even further.
The goTenna Mesh is ideal for outdoor recreation (i.e., groups deciding to hike separate trails), friends going to an outdoor concert venue, staying in separate cabins on a ski mountain, etc. The company slogan, “People-Powered connectivity on any adventure,” summarizes the many benefits available to goTenna Mesh users. There’s a reason that two devices come with every purchase: your goTenna creates its own network with other goTennas in the area. Just imagine reaching the summit of your favorite mountain on a nice fall day and being able to connect with fellow climbers half-way up the trail.
No cell tower or satellite in the area? No problem. Some of goTenna Mesh’s smart features include offline maps allowing you to use GPS without cell service, location sharing (automatically letting others goTenna users your location), messaging (send private one-on-one or group messages to a goTenna Mesh nearby), and message confirmation (automated message receipt notification). Because goTenna relies on radio frequency waves, the point-to-point range is entirely dependent upon location. If you’re in an open environment, like the Midwest, expect up to a three-mile range. If you’re using goTenna in the city where skyscrapers tend to block signals, then expect a one-mile signal radius.
So how does goTenna Mesh’s technology work? Without getting overwhelmingly technical, goTenna Mesh relies on decentralized networks; aka, ones with no reliance on existing infrastructure. In other words, since goTenna does not rely on a cell tower or satellite, its signal range is not restrained.
Wired defines a mesh network as “an ad hoc network infrastructure that can be set up by anyone… without passing through any central authority or centralized organization.” With that being said, peer-to-peer communication is only limited by the nearest goTenna Mesh device. Like I previously mentioned: walkie-talkies on steroids. In technical speak, goTenna’s KickStarter site states, “Mesh networks have protocols in place that automatically reconfigure based on the environment and presence of relay nodes.”
What about privacy? How can a user be safeguarded against his or her broadcast being hacked, especially since it’s bouncing from user to user? Described as a shipping label on a sealed package, goTenna’s website describes the encryption process: “When a data packet is sent through a goTenna Mesh, it is sent to a specific destination; i.e., the IR(s). The IR holds the key to decrypting the transmission, but relaying devices (and users) do not. Instead, goTenna Mesh devices acting as relay nodes can only identify certain information contained in the packet.”
The goTenna Mesh, like most smart technologies, solves problems in the most sophisticated way possible. In this case, the off-grid connectivity can save its users’ lives. Whether it’s the unpredictable outdoors, Mother Nature, or other unforeseen dangers during an off-the-beaten-path adventure, having the ability to communicate is critical to everyone’s safety. There’s no doubt that you’ll see mountain rescue teams adopt GoTenna Mesh as their go-to communication device.