GoTenna Mesh

Next-gen­er­a­tion comms for when there’s no sig­nal. But does it work?

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

We know full well the lim­i­ta­tions of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the hills, specif­i­cally the hi­tand-miss na­ture of sig­nal. With the goTenna Mesh – which comes as a pair of de­vices – your phone con­nects via Blue­tooth to one unit, which com­mu­ni­cates with the other via ra­dio fre­quen­cies, which con­nects to a sec­ond phone via Blue­tooth. This en­ables texts and GPX in­for­ma­tion to be re­layed be­tween phones even if you have no sig­nal which, for man­ag­ing groups or stay­ing in touch with trekking bud­dies, could be a huge ad­van­tage. How­ever, there are some draw­backs.

Although the goTenna Mesh is smaller, lighter, and has a greater range and a longer bat­tery life than walkie-talkies, it only al­lows you to send mes­sages – there is no abil­ity to make voice calls. Nor is it im­mune from the draw­backs of ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tion: ter­rain can block sig­nals, mean­ing that land­scape ob­jects such as moun­tains can in­ter­rupt the link and pre­vent com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cut­ting the range down from an al­ready mod­est three miles to a very lim­ited one mile. It’s pos­si­ble to use mul­ti­ple Mesh de­vices to leap-frog the sig­nal from one to the other, but this in­volves fur­ther fi­nan­cial out­lay and re­quires care­ful po­si­tion­ing of the units to cre­ate a sta­ble net­work. And, of course, it’s only any good for mo­bile-to-mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion – goTenna Mesh does not al­low you to di­rectly con­tact a lan­d­line or, most im­por­tantly, emer­gency ser­vices. It’s good to see com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy ad­vanc­ing – but there’s still some way to go be­fore it be­comes must-have kit.


A po­ten­tially use­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool for groups, al­beit one with some sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tions for hill use.

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