How to Keeps Your Cell Phone Connected, Even When You Don’t Have Cell Service


GoTenna, a Brooklyn-based hardware startup, has a modified, smartphone app-based approach to staying in touch at a lower cost when cell service is shaky, no satellite connection required. The device, a thin 2-ounce wand that can be strapped to a backpack or belt loop, connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth low energy . Slide out the antenna and power on the device and you’ll then be able to send messages and GPS coordinates from your smartphone to others connected to a GoTenna. The company offers downloadable, high-resolution offline maps for referencing transmitted location data.

GoTenna doesn’t give your smartphone LTE-style data, so no Twitter scrolling or Facebook browsing. What it does is create a low-frequency radio wave network for its iOS and Android app that can last around 1 mile in skyscraper-filled urban areas, but up to 9 miles in most outdoor situations like hiking and camping. If you’re climbing or, say, out skiing, it shoots from 9 miles to as high as 50 miles once you start ascending to higher elevations.



  • All that one needs to do is just download the app and pair it with iOS and Android devices. Once done, one can actually send text messages, even without a cell or WiFi connection!
  • These messages can be sent one-on-one, within groups or even broadcast to everyone nearby.
  • Also, you can block people. Besides, users can send their GPS location as well, viewable on a pre-downloaded map. Just imagine how useful it can prove to be when one’s facing some emergency and need immediate help!
  • The devices are light (weighing only 1.8 ounces), and designed to be clipped to a backpack or other gear.
  • As for power, the device can approximately send 700 messages, and receive many more than that, on a single charge.
  • The range is dependent on terrain and elevation, and comparable to other 2W VHF radios.


The goTenna app is compatible with iOS and Android phones, allowing users to send and receive messages, share locations on downloadable offline maps, transmit to anyone within range, and receive delivery confirmation. It also has have automatic message retry and supports end-to-end encryption.

“Public safety and military personnel depend on radio frequency (RF) technology, but what they use requires training, and are very heavy and expensive,” Perdomo said. “By marrying smartphones’ ease-of-use and computing power to tried-and-true RF technology we’ve made goTenna a low-power, low-cost, deceptively intelligent device that feels like any messaging app — except it’ll work when no other can.”

The goTenna is currently shipping to early backers and is now available for new customers. devices cost $199 per pair.


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