Cell phones are great for communication — so long as you have service. A new product, the goTenna, retails for $299 for a pair (pre-orders now are $149 a pair) and allows users to text one another with no cell service.
It works much like a walkie-talkie. To use it, you must have a partner (or multiple partners) who also have goTennas.
Once synced with your phone, the goTenna lets you send and receive texts (up to 160 characters) via a low-frequency two-watt radio wave. The cited range is up to 50 miles depending on terrain.
It lets users create networks with other individuals or specific groups of goTenna users. You can also “shout” a message to go out to everyone in range if an emergency arises. The caveat? Nobody will hear it if they don’t have a goTenna.
Each network is private and the company claims there isn’t any interference or overlap.
The goTenna does not work with voice calls or other data usage such as internet, but it does let users text message at will. We see many potential applications in the backcountry where walkie-talkies are currently a top option.
An added bonus: goTenna shares locations pulled from the phone’s GPS with others in your network, so you can navigate to other users.
Apple and Android phones are supported. The device functions with a phone in airplane mode, which should help save on battery in the wilds.
Its molded nylon and metal hardshell is weather-resistant. A lithium-ion battery is recharged with any micro-USB connection.
Available Fall 2014, the goTenna was just announced today and we haven’t had the chance to test it yet. We look forward to trying it out in varying conditions and far off-grid.