I’ve read several discussions on here about folks using goTenna’s in more urban settings but I haven’t seen anyone talk about more of a rural/mountainous network so I thought I would add my experience to maybe encourage others in similar situations.
I use the goTenna mesh (GTM) as a supplement to fill in the holes of VHF FM radio service to firefighters in the mountains of Idaho. We have expensive VHF FM radios in our vehicles and portable versions to carry into the field that are aided by mountain top repeaters. I currently maintain around 6 semi-permanent mountain top GTM relays (i’ll call them permanent relays). While these relays by no means cover all the holes left by our VHF radios they do make it possible for field users to quickly add additional GTM temporary relays and have communications where they otherwise wouldn’t. If you can see a relay you are on the network and everything in your view shed can be added to the network just by placing a relay where you stand.
Most of my permanent relays are in a solar setting and modified to return to service if they shut down. I’ve got a few topics on this forum discussing those modifications. Additionally I am able to ping and message them from anywhere on the network. This is a huge time saver in that I don’t need to travel all over to determine the health of the network. This morning I sent a message that had clear line of sight to a permanent relay 20 miles away on a peak of around 6500’. The message then traveled pretty much back over my head to another permanent relay 30 miles from the first on a peak of around 4000’. I have yet to max out the range in these rural settings free from interference of the modern infrastructure; if I can see it I have communications. If I can’t see it I try it sending a message until it fails; I am usually amazed at what 1 watt can do.
I have had major problems trying to place GTM’s on mountain tops already being used as communications sites. In these cases the GTM was very unreliable despite perfect line of sight. Additionally working around a city of 50,000 people I wasn’t getting near the performance I’ve experienced in my more typical rural/ mountainous setting, even with clear line of sight.
Most folks will not want to deal with the modification and upkeep necessary to keep the GTM network operational. With the reworking of the GTM to include a few of the changes suggested on this forum to make it more plug and play I think the GTM would make great sense to those in areas where there are NO traditional means of communications? In my mind the rural/mountainous setting is where goTenna could be marketing more. While I understand there are more potential users in large cities the usefulness of the goTenna mesh isn’t appreciated because phone networks are so reliable. It’s only when they go down for extended periods that the masses seek out alternatives.
Just my two cents. Hopefully this encourages someone!