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Device lets smartphones communicate during network outage

Patrick Nelson | Jan. 19, 2015
An off-grid communications tool aimed at the prepper and outdoors market has potential for enterprise disaster planning.

CEO and co-founder Daniela Perdomo, said in a Gigaom interview that the device could also be used by those who want to avoid government intercepts "under repressive regimes."

Range
The device uses VHF 151-154 MHz Multi-Use Radio Service, or MURS, which is a short-distance, two-way, FCC-regulated service similar to General Mobile Radio Service and FRS.

MURS, though, has better long-distance propagation than GMRS and FRS because it uses lower frequencies.

Of course, range is dependent on topography. The manufacturer suggests a city street's environment would allow a half-to-one-mile range, forests two-to-three miles, and deserts four-to-six miles. Elevation would improve those numbers.

Capacity
Remember that this system depends on publicly shared frequencies, unlike exclusive Mobile Network Operator frequencies which are dedicated to the particular MNO. That means you're sharing the band with other VHF MURS users, which includes alarm companies.

However, Perdomo, in the same interview, said that the device can be used by "two people in the Sahara or 5,000 people at Coachella." So it sounds like they've thought of, and hopefully addressed, capacity issues.

Radio traffic volume always increases during a large-scale incident.

Availability
The goTenna devices are sold in two-packs. Current advance-order pricing is $149.99 for a pair. A four-pack costs $289.99 and there are no service fees.

The company says it will start shipping to the U.S. in spring 2015.

Source: Network World

 

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