No Network? No Problem. Texting without Cell Service.

No Network? No Problem. Texting without Cell Service.

When there's no cell service available, how do you communicate with family and friends? In the midst of a disaster, how do you get updates? We're used to the "always on" world, but in times of disaster and crisis, your primary source of communication is often not available - texting.

Hello GoTenna. GoTenna uses an app on a smartphone coupled with a portable, battery powered short-wave radio transmitter/receiver, to send and receive text messages from other devices up to 50 miles away - without cell service available.

Daniela, a startup guru, and Jorge Perdomo, a system architect, filled in the missing link: a device that would allow communication to continue when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi service available.

goTenna devices turns smartphones into standalone bidirectional communicators. Callers link the small dongles to their phones over Bluetooth and launch the goTenna app. Users compose a text message, which then relays through the goTenna. The signal passes over a short-wave radio frequency to the recipient’s device, which in turn displays the message through the app. If the recipient isn’t within range, the system will automatically resend the message until it goes through.

Individuals can opt to send messages to one recipient, blast them to an entire group or ping alerts (what the company calls “shouts”) to other goTenna users who are within range. Messages can also include a user’s precise location on a map.

Company Website

GoTenna

Additional Articles

Smithsonian
cNet
The Register

 

Chris is the owner of Disaster.Com, along with being a business consultant and entrepreneur. In addition to working 80 hours a week on Disaster.Com, Chris is spending another 80 hours a week building a small business consulting company called Fair Winds Strategies. When he's not working, you can find Chris hanging out with his wife and kids, or on his sailboat (which he spent two years living on and cruising down to the Bahamas from New York, and then back).

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Discussion
  1. How can I get that device? Any links would be greatly appreciated. I think that is a very helpful device for those who live in areas prone to disasters. It's a must have for everyone!
    The best part in here is" the system will automatically resend the message until it goes through".

    The concept though easy would have been tough to implement.We had struggles doing the radio wave itself.This surely is an app worth the effort.

    Are there any specific cons or what..??
    This is fantastic. It would not only be great for emergency contact, but also to check on others or report to others that you are okay. I know my family gets very worried when they don't hear from me or cannot contact me when something happens. This has occurred on more than one occasion. More than once when tornadoes hit near my home, and at least once during a very bad ice storm.
    When we had the severe tornadoes here in Alabama a few years back, not only was all of the power out all over the whole area, but also many of the cell phones, and so many people were trying to connect with family or loved ones; that even when they worked, they were overwhelmed with calls. If somehow, the call managed to get through, then you lost connection.

    We discovered that sending a text was much better. if it didn't go through, you just kept trying, and it only needed a few seconds of connection to get through.

    Having this kind of a connection that would work when power and cell were out, would have been a great thing, at least for people who have family within the 50 mile range that this works.

    The first thing that we wanted to know was whether my daughter was okay, and she , in turn, was trying to contact us.

    How happy we were when that first text finally came through, and we learned that she was also safe and pretty much undamaged from the tornado.
    I've read and heard from multiple places that if you and your loved one are in some sort of natural disaster, you should contact someone out of the disaster area. So it would be wise to get in touch with family or close friends that live outside your area and let them know about this emergency plan. That way if something happens you and your immediate family will have someone to connect to.

    My fiancé definitely have talked about this and we both picked someone from out of our living area for us to contact if any of us gets in some sort of natural disaster. Plus then that way someone besides ourselves will know we're safe.
    Even if you don't have one of these, texts are still the preferred method of communicating during a disaster. Phone calls will tie up the line, & can be disconnected easily. Texts can sometimes get through where phone calls can't. If this concept catches wind with the general community, then communicating during disasters will be easier for everyone.
    Damn! I was thinking of creating or investing into a similar portable device like goTenna about a month ago, but it seems I merely caught onto the morphic resonance the people who creating this product only. I believe, once this product gets more customer reviews, it's going to be a highly demanded by people - most buyers require word-of-mouth or reviews to inspire them to purchase such a new type of product like goTenna. I'm definitely getting one, not for disaster related situations but for any of my activities that involve being out of cellular tower range and wi-fi access.
    Ok, here is my question... cellphones and such work off of airwaves.... this device works off of airwaves...when disasters happen the airwaves are "crowded" making it impossible to go send or receive messages or calls. If everyone had one of these devices and start trying to communicate with loved ones then the airwaves become crowded, which means you wont be able to get through again...so how is that going to help you?
    toradrake
    Ok, here is my question... cellphones and such work off of airwaves.... this device works off of airwaves...when disasters happen the airwaves are "crowded" making it impossible to go send or receive messages or calls. If everyone had one of these devices and start trying to communicate with loved ones then the airwaves become crowded, which means you wont be able to get through again...so how is that going to help you?


    From the company website, it looks like the smart phone communicates with the device via Bluetooth and from there in the 151-154 mhz spectrum range which is in the MURS service. Its certainly possible that there could be interference in the that block, but less so than the cellular service that is either jammed up or completely down. Their site doesn't explicitly say so, but my hunch is that its searches for an open channel (there's six on MURS) when you transmit.

    For all intents and purposes, it looks like a way to turn your Smart Phone into a sophisticated (digital, encrypted, etc.) MURS two way radio. One of the limitations with that service, though, is that it cannot do "store and forward" operations which would be helpful in this application. In fairness, that is due to FCC regulation though.
    My first thought when I clicked on the article and looked at the device was that it looked like a fancy pregnancy test. All kidding aside though it looks as if it would be a good tool to put in your emergency kit. I wonder how much it costs? My only fear would be that the radio signals would get confused somehow and random texts would get sent out to people they were not intended to go to...maybe that is not a problem though. I am going to keep this in mind and do a little more research on it.
    Thank you for the good news of salvation. I hope the GoTenna device will really work especially during awfully bad weather. When Typhoon Haiyan struck last year, we had no signal for days. Owning a device like that would be a great help. It was impossible to communicate with family and friends who were located in areas where the typhoon hit the hardest.
    That's an interesting question that I would have simply answered with: I just wait until I have service again. I have been cut off several times from civilization in the past, and it never occurred to me to worry too much about my cell phone coverage. This might sound selfish, but the last thing that I worry about during a disaster is trying to get in touch with family or friends. Perhaps we just have a different mentality where I come from.
    I use a couple of apps to text if need be. I use KIK, textplus, and text now. All of those are easy to use apps that are available over wifi or any internet connection. Definitely recommend everyone use those if they are in a pinch with finances or just having trouble with their cell phone connection. Works just as good as texting over a cell phone network.
    That's great to hear that, it's really going to help everyone, We don't need to worry about the network signals than. There are few application on the Smartphone by which you can text to your friend, family or anyone without using cell service's. Many of these applications also offer additional perks like group chat and video. These all applications are available on: Windows phones, iOS, and Android.
    Such a great technology. I have not heard and have not seen one yet in my location.

    Is that really available? or maybe can we buy that on amazon something like that? I can see that there is another hardware that is needed to be bought.
    Jade Mae
    Such a great technology. I have not heard and have not seen one yet in my location.

    Is that really available? or maybe can we buy that on amazon something like that? I can see that there is another hardware that is needed to be bought.


    The official GoTenna website states that orders will begin shipping later this summer, but that orders placed now will not ship until the fall. You can pre-order two devices at this link for $149.99. They are sold in twos and each pair comes with two micro-USB charging cables. It cannot be purchased at Amazon, only direct through their website.

    Forbes recently gave the GoTenna two thumbs up, as did CNET.
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