How goTenna works

goTenna enables you to communicate without any need for central connectivity whatsoever—no cell towers, no wifi, no satellites—so when you're off-grid you can remain connected. In fact, goTenna will even work if your smartphone is in “Airplane Mode”! 

How does this magic work?

Pair your smartphone to your goTenna device wirelessly, using Bluetooth-LE. Your goTenna needs to be within 20 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 Bluetooth-LE to the smartphone app it's paired with. All of this happens in a matter of milliseconds, and your goTenna will be able to transmit to any goTenna within range.

What kind of range can you expect?

The most important thing to understand about range with goTenna is that it is greatly dependent on your geography: specifically your terrain and elevation.

Next, there are two distinct ways to answer this question.

What is the theoretical range?

The first approach is to use industry-standard radio-frequency propagation calculators that assume ideal conditions.

Play with our interactive module below to get a sense for what theoretical range you can expect in specific environments (open water, suburban, urban, forest, desert) and elevations. Toggle the goTenna on the left up and down (and remember that if you're like most people and between 5 and 6.5 feet tall, the goTenna will likely never actually be placed at 0 ft elevation).

4ft
  • desert
  • forest
  • ocean
  • urban
  • suburb
1000m
sea level 

However, as we've discussed, these are theoretical ranges, and can vary greatly in either direction, depending on your specific environment. For instance, if you're heli-skiing on a mountaintop and want to reach Richard Branson on another peak, you can definitely get a 50-mile range. But, that's not most of us—not most of the time anyway.

What is the more likely range?

When you don't find yourself at the edge of cliff or hanging out in a skyscraper, your range with goTenna will be smaller. Most of the time you'll probably be trucking your boots through the dirt with land (or water) all around and level with you, and the goTennas you and your friends are using to communicate with are probably going to be 4-6 feet off the ground.

So your range with goTenna will look more like this in those more common scenarios:

City street to city street: 0.5-1 mile

Forest to forest: 2-3 miles

Water to water: 4-6 miles

Desert to desert: 4-6 miles

 

Can you get more than this when you're on the ground? Absolutely. We wouldn't be surprised if you did a lot better. But we want to be the first honest radio company, so we'd rather under-promise and over-deliver.

How can you improve your range?

As you probably get by now, elevating the goTenna increases its range drastically. Hike up a little, hang it from a tree, etc. But another way to improve your range when you can't elevate yourself significantly—or even when you can—is to attach it externally to other gear (e.g. a backpack), as opposed to having it at the bottom of a bag. That's what the nylon attachment strap is for!

Key app features

  • Send & receive text messages for free
  • Share locations on detailed offline maps
  • Instantaneous transmission within range
  • Automatic message retry & delivery confirmation
  • Individual & group messaging
  • ”Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
  • Proximal friend map & location pinging
  • Emergency chat
  • End-to-end encryption (224-bit elliptic curve) & self-destructing messages
  • Compatible with iOS & Android

Key hardware specs 

  • Antenna
  • 2-watt radio
  • Flash memory good for 1000’s of messages
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
  • Micro-USB connector
  • BluetoothLE data interface
  • Status indicator lights
  • Nylon attachment strap
  • Water-resistant
  • Dust-tight

Pre-order goTenna

Get yours first! goTenna comes in twos — one for you, and another to share with a friend — so you can stay connected to each other and anyone else who has goTenna.