Nothing stops goTenna from letting you text – not even terrible phone reception

It’s like those two cans linked together by a string – except the string is a radio signal

The antenna on-the-go goTenna is a 6-inch-long baton (oh my) that connects (mmmm) to your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and facilitates interaction (uh-huh) with other goTenna-connected smartphones.

Okay, let's get serious. It propagates on an extremely low-band frequency which science tells us means it's very long (stop it) range and navigates easily around obstacles. We swear, that's the last innuendo.

Daniela Perdomo, goTenna’s CEO and co-founder, says its range is only limited by the horizon: signals can go as far as nine miles in open environments. The range decreases with increasing obstacles, but she claims signals can extend to four miles in forested areas and one mile in her densely-populated hometown of Brooklyn. In theory, goTenna could reach as far as 50 miles if the horizon is extended, as it would be on the top of a mountain.

A new meaning to radio-ing in

It's completely off the mobile/Internet grid so it's not terribly useful if you intend to tweet or surf the web. The bandwidth couldn’t take it anyway. No, goTenna is about going back to the basics. The 151MHz network is best for transmitting simple texts and GPS coordinates (mobile networks are on the 700MHz band, if you were wondering).

Gotenna lets you text no matter how bad your phone reception

These features are combined with an app that offers location sharing and downloadable maps. Together, it's a system light and flexible enough to accommodate communication off the grid between as few as two people, or as many as 5,000.

Think music festivals, hiking trails, mountain-climbing. Or you might not need to go that far. Even talking to friends while you navigate a concrete basement labyrinth on campus would work.

Perdomo admits it slots easily into many niche markets – including privacy advocates looking to avoid snooping governments and the survivalist/militia market. goTenna communications are readily encrypted, making specialised radio interception difficult.

Pre-orders are now available, starting at US$150 (£90) as a promotional price (full retail will be US$300).

[Source: GoTenna via GigaOM]

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