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How it works

What is goTenna?

Short story:

goTenna is a small device that allows you to use your smartphone to send and receive messages and share your GPS location with others even when you don’t have service.

Longer story:

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, anywhere on the planet, regardless of access to cell reception, wi-fi or even satellites. goTenna allows you to send and receive texts and share GPS locations on beautiful offline maps, without ever relying on central connectivity. Depend on it in all kinds of situations: when hiking in remote areas, traveling, attending 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.

Where can I use goTenna?

goTenna works basically anywhere. Take it with you on your next ski trip, vacation on a deserted island, music festival excursion, field study in a remote area, or simply keep it on you just in case.

We do advise that you avoid Faraday cages. ;)

How does goTenna work?

Pair your 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.

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. Check out our How it Works page to get a sense for what kind of range you can expect in specific scenarios. 

Why is goTenna better than a walkie-talkie?

  • Integrates with the smartphone you already have on you
  • Texts allow for less miscommunication (and poor timing) than real-time voice
  • Delivery confirmation & automatic message retry for one-to-one messaging
  • Chat with specific individuals or groups, or anyone within range of you
  • Don't worry about being on the same channel or having your conversation interrupted by others
  • Share your location and points of interest on detailed offline maps
  • End-to-end encryption for total privacy
  • Small and light form factor
  • Upgradeable to include new features via firmware & software updates

Why do you sell goTenna in pairs?

goTenna is more fun with friends! (But don't worry: you are not limited to communicating only with goTennas you buy at the same time. In fact, you can message anyone who has a goTenna within range of you.)

Who can I communicate with using goTenna?

Absolutely anyone else who has goTenna within range of you.

The reason you can't chat with people who don't have goTenna is due to the physics of radio waves. You need a properly designed RF receiver to interpret a goTenna signal. We would love to have our signals get to devices that aren't goTenna-enabled, but phones are designed to work with towers — exactly what we are working around — and regular radios aren't able to operate at the level of our super-smart networking protocols (plus, are analog radios, while we are a cognitive digital radio).

TL;DR: We're the first and only ones doing this! #innovation :)

Can I communicate with groups? Individuals?

Absolutely. You can send messages to specific individuals as well as specific groups, just the way you do with any messaging app you already use.

Can I broadcast openly to anyone within range of me?

Yes, these are called "shouts," which are received by any goTennas within range.

Is goTenna a mesh network?

Not yet, which is why we've focused instead on getting you great point-to-point distance over the long-range 151-154 MHz frequencies.

What kinds of messages can I send with goTenna?

You can send text messages up to 160 characters (just like on your phone) as well as share your location on detailed offline maps. While we do support emojis, we don't currently support voice or images.

(The reason we're avoiding voice and images is that consumers and partners told us text and location were the most important kinds of communication when no service is available. Moreover, by limiting goTenna to text and location, the devices are smaller, lighter, less expensive, and last longer.)

Are there any fees or subscriptions associated with goTenna?

Nope. Once you have your device(s), you can message and share your location with anyone who has goTenna however much you like! You can also download as many offline maps as you'd like for free.

Device specs

What materials is goTenna made of?

The casing is made of high-grade, durable metal, nylon, and silicone — all industrially designed to be water-resistant and dust-tight. Inside, there's a circuit board, radio chips, a custom antenna, and a lithium-polymer battery which can be recharged with any micro-USB cable.

What are goTenna's key hardware specs?

  • Antenna
  • 2-watt radio
  • Flash memory good for 100's of messages
  • Rechargeable Lithium-polymer battery
  • Micro-USB connector
  • Bluetooth-LE data interface
  • Status indicator lights
  • Nylon attachment strap
  • Water-resistant
  • Dust-tight
  • Size: Roughly 5.8 in x 1 in x 0.5 in or 147.3 mm x 25.4 mm x 12.7 mm. When the device extends, its length increases by 2.2 in or 55.8 mm
  • Weight: About 1.8 oz or 52 g

What materials is goTenna made of?

The casing is made of high-grade, durable metal, nylon, and silicone — all industrially designed to be water-resistant and dust-tight. Inside, there's a circuit board, radio chips, a custom antenna, and a lithium-polymer battery which can be recharged with any micro-USB cable.

How big is a goTenna?

The dimensions of a goTenna are roughly 5.8 in x 1 in x 0.5 in or 147.3 mm x 25.4 mm x 12.7 mm. When the device extends, its length increases by 2.2 in or 55.8 mm. It weighs about 1.8 oz or 52 g.

Is goTenna approved by the FCC?

Yes. goTenna is approved under Part 95.

Is goTenna waterproof?

No, but it's definitely weatherproof and water-resistant. We've designed it to survive rainy excursions, and to stand a good chance of survival if briefly dropped in water, but it's definitely not designed to be submerged. Leave it with your smartphone when you go swimming!

Is goTenna dust-tight?


Will anything happen if I sit on my goTenna?

If it's closed/off it'll be fine, but might not be very comfortable for you.

Definitely don't sit on it when the antenna is extended, as you could get unlucky and accidentally lever on it in such a way that it breaks.

Will magnets, airport X-ray machines or metal detectors damage goTenna?


How long will my goTenna last?

As with every other electronics product, over time the battery will last a little less and less. It all depends on how much you use your goTenna and how many charging and discharging cycles you go through. We expect that with normal use, your goTenna should continue to have fantastic battery life for many years. That being said, even if the battery does start to degrade, all it means is that it won’t last as long without a charge, but the goTenna will still work if you can give it at least a little juice.

What is the battery life of a goTenna?

The battery will last 24+ hours on standby — i.e. not transmitting, just "listening." If you use it to send lots of messages (and message retries), your goTenna's battery life can be much shorter.

Can I replace the battery?

Unfortunately not. We’ve designed goTenna to be rugged, which means it’s not designed to be pried open. goTenna will cover any defective batteries (happens sometimes!) under our 1-year limited warranty.

Is there a battery replacement program?

While we currently don't have one in place — given we expect your goTenna's battery to last many years — we may offer one down the line.

May I connect an external antenna to my goTenna?

If you're hacker-inclined, go for it! While it will void your warranty, we still want to hear what you did and how it went for you. We're hackers too, so keep an eye out for Easter eggs. ;)


What type of encryption does goTenna use?

Private 1-to-1 and group messages sent over goTenna are end-to-end encrypted with 384-bit elliptic curve public-private key ciphering. The only exceptions are messages sent using the “shout” and “emergency” features which are by definition public conversations with others within range of you.

Why do I need to verify my phone number?

You will need to verify your phone number during account setup, and you need to be connected to a cell network (not wifi) to do so. Once you enter your phone number, you will be sent a 5-digit verification code via SMS text message. You will need this code to proceed with account setup. This step will occur only when first creating your account, and is done solely to verify the identity of the user. We do this so people know if a user on goTenna is using a phone number, you can trust it’s really that person!

How secure is goTenna?

Very. Beyond the end-to-end encryption, because there is no central server there is no proverbial “back-door.”

What happens if I lose my goTenna?

You should probably buy a new one :)

If you’re worried about messages on your goTenna, however, fret not. All messages stored on goTenna are still encrypted and can only be decrypted by the private key which is only inside your phone’s app. If another phone were to pair with it, the stored messages are automatically deleted.

Can other people with goTenna devices gain access to messages I send?

No, everything is encrypted and our firmware doesn’t allow downloading one goTenna account’s messages to another smartphone anyway.

What information does my goTenna store?

Just the goTenna ID you’ve set to be your contact (i.e. either your phone number or a randomized string), and any messages your phone hasn’t pulled yet. If you opt in to telemetry, we’ll gather some basic statistics to help make goTenna better like battery life, device temperature, and so forth — absolutely zero actual messages or contact list information though!

Why should I believe goTenna cares about my privacy?

We feel you. It’s hard to sort out who pays lip service to privacy and who really means it these days. The sad reality is both the government and tech companies have disrespected our privacy, time and time again. Well, we have this to say about goTenna: we set out to build a consumer-ready, completely decentralized, end-to-end encrypted communication technology, without a “back-door” for anyone, because it didn’t exist yet, and we thought it should. We’ll leave it at that.