What is goTenna?
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.
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.
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.)
How does offline location sharing work?
goTenna leverages the GPS on your phone, which works all the time even if you don't have service. goTenna then contextualizes that "blue dot" on detailed offline vector maps and allows you to share it with others who have goTenna.
All our maps are free for download, and you can share your location, request others' locations, and also share points of interest. The maps are detailed enough to show specific city blocks and even some trails in certain parks.
What are goTenna's major app features?
* Send & receive messages for free
* Share locations on detailed offline maps (also for free!)
* Instantaneous transmission within range
* 1-to-1 & group messaging
* Delivery confirmation & message retry (1-to-1 chats only)
* "Shout" broadcasts to anyone within range
* End-to-end encryption (224-bit elliptic curve)
* Compatible and interoperable with iOS & Android devices
* Upgradable via firmware & software updates
What are goTenna's key hardware specs?
* 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
* 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
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
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.
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 colors does goTenna come in?
goTenna's nylon attachment strap comes in four colors, and you can buy goTenna in two pairings. One combination pairs a blue goTenna with a green one; the other pairs an orange goTenna with a purple one. Family packs contain one device in all four strap colors.
Where do I get goTenna?
You can order it right here on our website. We accept credit cards and bitcoin.
If you'd like to place an order over the phone, please email your phone number and some times to reach you to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll contact you as soon as possible.
Is goTenna approved by the FCC?
Yes. goTenna is approved under Part 95.
Is goTenna patented?
goTenna’s technology is patent pending.
Which smartphones are supported by goTenna?
goTenna will work on all Apple devices running iOS 8.4 or above that are Bluetooth-LE enabled, and on Android smartphones running 4.3 or above that are Bluetooth-LE enabled. We strongly recommend using the most recent versions of OS software available.
Will my goTenna work with an iPod or iPad?
Yes, although on an iPad, the UI won't look great as we've designed it for small iDevices (i.e. iPhones, iPods).
Will my goTenna work with a Kindle or other Android tablets?
The UI won't look great, but the goTenna Android app would work. Such devices would have to be running Android OS 4.3 or higher, and be Bluetooth-LE enabled.
How do people find me on goTenna?
At account creation, you can either set up your goTenna ID (GID) to be your phone number — recommended, as it will then integrate with your contact list and make it easy for other people you know to find you on goTenna — or a randomly generated string we create for you (this allows you to create an account even when you don’t have cell network connectivity).
How do I start a chat with an individual?
Step 1: Click the blue Chat icon in the lower-right corner of your conversation or location screens
Step 2: Select "1-to-1 Chat"
Step 3: Choose your contact or type in the ID number they used during account creation. Note: This is likely to be their phone number — and if they're in your contact list, you'll see that clearly — but it can also be a GID, or goTenna ID, a randomized string they need to share with you
Step 4: Type your message
Step 5: Hit "Send"
How do I start a group chat?
Step 1: Select "Chat" on the main menu
Step 2: Click the blue Chat icon in the lower-right corner
Step 3: Select "Group Chat"
Step 4: Choose your contacts or type in the ID number they used during account creation. Note: This is likely to be their phone number — and if they’re in your contact list, you’ll see that clearly — but it can also be a GID, or goTenna ID, a randomized string they need to share with you
Step 5: Click “Create” in the upper-right corner to create group
Step 6: Type your message
Step 7: Hit "Send"
How do I broadcast publicly to anyone around?
Step 1: Select "Chat" on the main menu
Step 2: Click the blue Chat icon in the lower-right corner
Step 3: Select "Shout Chat"
Step 4: Type your message
Step 5: Hit "Send"
How do I know if someone got a message I sent?
If you send a message to a specific person, in a 1-to-1 message, goTenna will determine — in a matter of seconds (or less!) — whether the intended goTenna recipient received a message you sent. If it receives an acknowledgment of receipt at the other end, you'll see a delivery confirmation check-mark in the chat window in your app. If the message wasn't delivered successfully, you'll see a fail icon, and you can manually try again (usually moving to a higher ground or just trying from a different location can help a lot).
Please note that this feature is currently only available in private 1-to-1 messages (though delivery confirmation will be implemented in other cool ways soon).
How does automatic message retry work?
The goTenna networking protocol automatically retries sending your messages up to three times before it will ever give you a fail notice in a 1-to-1 message chat. (You may not even notice the retries are happening, as they take place in the background after you hit send.)
goTenna will not, however, retry indefinitely, as this can drain your battery significantly. If your message fails to reach your intended recipient in those first three automatic attempts, you may choose to attempt a manual retry later. It's usually best to try again from a different location, as you may simply be in a "radio shadow" where transmissions can't get out easily. (Hint: Try to find altitude and/or get away from any obstructions, like buildings or big boulders, for instance. Even just elevating yourself 3 or 5 feet can make a huge difference!)
Will goTenna work if my phone is in Airplane Mode?
Yes, just make sure your Bluetooth is on so it can connect with your phone. This is actually a good strategy when you're trying to conserve your smartphone's battery, as when your phone isn't trying to connect to wifi or cell towers, its battery life increases exponentially.
But doesn't Bluetooth not work if your phone is in Airplane Mode?
A common misconception, but fortunately, not true. Try it. :) On most smartphones or other smart-devices, once you enable Airplane Mode, you have to specifically toggle Bluetooth back on. (In fact, you can do the same for wifi!).
Can I turn goTenna's Bluetooth on and off?
When goTenna is on, the Bluetooth is on, and vice-versa. So you can't have goTenna on and its Bluetooth connection off at once.
How far can my phone and goTenna be from each other?
goTenna uses Bluetooth Low-Energy to wirelessly pair to your smartphone. You'll probably want to have them within 20 ft (7 m) of each other, though you should aim to keep goTenna as close to your smartphone as possible, as Bluetooth can be unreliable at greater distances.
Can I connect my goTenna to multiple smartphones?
A goTenna can only be paired to one phone at a time. That being said, you can communicate with as many other goTennas as are within range of you, and you can also select "Forget This Device" within the app and pair your goTenna to another smartphone.
Do I need to have my phone with me to use my goTenna?
You need your phone to send and see received messages, however goTenna can continue to receive messages without your phone being paired. In such a case goTenna would store your messages for upload to your phone the next time you connect.
This is also true if your phone battery dies. Your goTenna will continue to receive messages on your behalf and store them until you can recharge your phone and access the goTenna app again.
Can I use my goTenna to communicate with people who don't have a goTenna?
No. goTennas emit a unique radio-frequency intended for other goTennas.
Can I communicate with anyone who has a goTenna?
Of course, so long as they are within range of you.
How many users can be in a private goTenna group conversation?
Groups can be up to 10 users, though we plan to expand the group maximum soon.
Where do I download goTenna's offline maps?
To download goTenna’s offline maps, choose “Location” from the main menu, then click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the map screen. Next, select “Downloaded Maps”, and then select “Available” on the “Map Downloads” screen. Choose either by country (e.g. France) or by country>region (e.g. United States of America>California).
All maps are free. You do require a data connection to download the maps, so plan to do so before you go off-grid! And because some of these maps can be big, you should download maps when you're on wifi.
How do I share my location, pin, or request someone else's location?
Step 1: Select "Chat" on the main menu
Step 2: Choose an existing chat, or start a new one by clicking the blue Chat icon
Step 3: Click the Location icon to the left of the text field
Step 4: Choose either "Request User's Location", "Attach a Pin", or "Attach my Location". If you select "Attach a Pin", you can choose an existing pin. "Attach my Location" will add the location automatically
Step 5: If you wish to include a message, type your message in the text field and you can send the text and pin attachment in one go
Step 6: Hit "Send"
How do I create and share an arbitrary pin on the map?
Step 1: Select "Location" in the main menu
Step 2: Find location where you would like to create a pin on the map
Step 3: Hold your finger on your desired location
Step 4: Select "Create Pin"
Step 5: Name the pin and select "Save"
Step 6: To share, select "Share Pin" after naming
What do the indicator lights mean?
goTenna's LED light indicates multiple functions. It will flash a long, slow blink when the device is activated. It will blink repeatedly at one-second intervals while waiting to pair over Bluetooth (and will stop blinking once paired, this is important to note, a working and paired goTenna will NOT have any lights on, this is normal and it’s done to save battery). goTenna will also blink the instant a message is sent or received.
Where should I have my goTenna when I'm using it?
For the best performance, you should try to attach it externally to gear (rather than inside of any gear) and try to elevate the device as much as possible.
For instance, attaching goTenna to the loop at the top of your backpack is better than placing it anywhere inside your backpack. Similarly, in your chest pocket is better than attached to your belt loop.
Also note that goTenna is not designed to be held in your hand; in fact, doing so could noticeably decrease your range. (That being said, if you want to hold it up for more height, hold it from the nylon strap, avoiding touching the metal and plastic casing, as your body can attenuate goTenna’s signal.)
What can affect my range?
In short, almost anything, which is why the performance of your goTenna's range is dependent on — and varies according to — your environment. Some of the key factors affecting your range are:
* Your physical environment
* The placement of the device
* Weather (wetter = worse)
* Non-goTenna radio interference
How can I increase my range?
Be aware of your environment:
Much like a cellphone in a basement or a radio in a tunnel, your goTenna device's signal can be affected by physical obstacles. So look around! If you're in a ravine, behind a big boulder, or blocked by a large building, you're likely in a "radio shadow." Try elevating the device (or standing on a higher surface) or getting around the obstacle. Just because your messages stopped getting through at one point, doesn't mean they won't get through later at even greater distances if you find a friendlier spot from which to broadcast!
Wear the goTenna as high as possible:
We strongly advise that you try to put it as high up on you as possible. We recommend hanging the device from a strap or clip on the upper side of a backpack. You can use goTenna on your belt loop or otherwise have it lower down, but you will experience a noticeable performance drop even over the short difference in altitude from your shoulder to your hip.
Don't grasp the goTenna in your hand:
If you're trying to get more range by elevating the device, hold it by the nylon strap, as holding the device itself may drastically decrease goTenna's performance.
What is the battery life of a goTenna?
The battery will last about 20+ 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.
How long does goTenna take to charge?
It takes about 1-2 hours to fully charge depending on the amount of power supplied by the power source. The red charging light next to the USB port will turn off when the unit is fully charged.
Is Bluetooth going to kill my smartphone’s battery life?
No. Bluetooth-LE, or Bluetooth Low Energy (or even Bluetooth 4.0), is a new standard which addresses the power drain of the old Bluetooth technology. It’s also a lot easier to pair with!
Regardless, switching over to Airplane Mode will extend your battery life even longer. (And if you're on Android, make sure to switch GPS back on after selecting Airplane Mode. On iOS, toggle Bluetooth back on after switching into Airplane Mode.)
Will goTenna work while it's charging?
Yes! However, your range will be reduced due to the charging cable throwing off goTenna's tune a bit. #science
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 are firmware updates for?
Firmware is the custom operating system programmed into your goTenna device. It’s what allows the goTenna hardware to do its magic. Updates to firmware allow for new features, upgrades, and bug fixes. Unlike quick app updates, firmware updates can take up to 10 minutes to complete. We recommend connecting your goTenna to power during a firmware update, similar to when you update the operating system on your phone or computer. We also recommend being on the same firmware as people you plan to use goTenna with so you can all take advantage of the same features.
What feature upgrades is goTenna planning on?
Lots of good ones, and soon. All upgrades will come through easy app updates. Stay tuned — goTenna's just gonna get better and better!
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.
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.
What type of encryption does goTenna use?
Private 1-to-1 and group messages sent over goTenna are end-to-end encrypted with 224-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!
What information does my goTenna device share with goTenna, the company?
None, though you can opt-in to share completely anonymized telemetry when you have a data connection, so that we can improve our service. Again, this is limited to basic data regarding battery life, device temperature, and so forth. No messages or contact list info are included.
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.
iPhone & Android app
- + Send & receive messages for free
- + Share locations on detailed offline maps (also for free!)
- + Instantaneous transmission within range
- + 1-to-1 & group messaging
- + Delivery confirmation & message retry (1-to-1 chats only)
- + “Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
- + End-to-end encryption (224-bit elliptic curve)
- + Compatible and interoperable with iOS & Android devices
- + Upgradable via firmware & software updates
- + 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