GoTenna Keeps Your Cell Phone Connected, Even When You Don’t Have Cell Service – TechCrunch
GoTenna co-founder Daniela Perdomo knowsÂ that her startup has been âquiet for a long time,â but she said itâs for a good reason â the team has been busy turning its prototype into something that could beÂ âmanufactured at scale.â
The company aims to help users to communicate even when they donât have any cell signal, whether itâs because theyâre in the wilderness or at a crowded festival. The companyÂ launched a preorder campaign midway through 2014, and now the productâsÂ officially availableÂ for purchase.
Early users have tested goTenna for things like hiking, snowports and silent outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. Perdomo gave me a somewhatÂ lessÂ adventurous demo when I visited goTennaâs Brooklyn offices â after downloading an app (something you probably want to do before heading into the wilderness) and pairing with iOS and Android devices, she could send text messages, even without a cell or WiFi connection.
Those messages can be sent one-on-one, within groups or even broadcast to everyoneÂ nearby. (Donât worry, you can also block people.) UsersÂ can send their GPS location as well, viewable on a pre-downloaded map â useful whether youâre facing someÂ emergency and need help, or if youâre just trying to meet up with a friend.
Given the prevalence of outdoors-y use cases, Perdomo acknowledged that some people might wonder, âIsnât the point of being off-the-grid to be off-the-grid?â In other words, if youâre going skiing or rock climbing or whatever, do you really want you friends to be able to text you?
âItâs not about Instagramming the world,â Perdomo said. âItâs about saying, âCome meet me at this sunset. This is where I am.’â
Backing up that argument:Â goTennaÂ wonât let you share anything other than text and location, at least not yet.
The devices are light, weighing only 1.8 ounces, and designed to be clipped to a backpack or other gear. Perdomo added that theÂ range will vary depending on the terrain â in New York City, itâs usually limited to a few blocks or half a mile, while outdoor groups have reported communicating across distances of up to four or five miles.
As for power,Â the device should be able to send 700 messages, and receive many more than that, on a single charge.goTenna devices cost $199 per pair. You canât buy them individually, but hey, thereâs not much point in texting alone. (Thereâs currently a $25 Black Friday/Cyber Monday discount, which includesÂ limited edition black-on-black devices.) Perdomo noted that this breaks down to about $100 per unit, significantly less than a fancy satellite radio.
Even better, thereâs no subscription fee. Perdomo said the company might eventually charge for additional services, but the core messaging capabilitiesÂ will always be free. After all, she and her brother JorgeÂ came up with the idea partly as a way to communicate during a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, so itâd be pretty bad if people were cut off during an emergency because they hadnât kept up with their payments.
In a similar vein, goTenna is actually partnering with the New York City Economic Development CorporationÂ to provide devices to small businesses so they can communicate duringÂ a disaster.