goTenna Mesh community

What happens if the worst happens?

I hate to be the one to ask this, and I hope that we never find out the actual real answer to this question, but…
What happens to the units, app, and infastructure should the company Gotenna suddenly cease to trade?

I think that is one of the primary arguments behind the use of standard protocols (RFCs). And the mark against proprietary systems and walled gardens.

However with the examples of AOL, MySpace, Facebook, Google, etc. it is apparent that businesses can make good money in a walled garden model and consumers are ‘generally’ accepting of the arrangement.

This thread below has some interesting discussions about the state of LoRa as a possible alternative should we face the ‘worst’

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I find it fascinating when people keep trying to pound the square peg of open source into the round hole of something that just works as it says it does and which offers multiple choices for customized interaction with other systems.

goTenna Mesh is designed to work off the grid, without support from the internet or cell networks. Should goTenna “suddenly cease to trade” for whatever reason, say meteor strike or pandemic, whatever, it would pretty much go on working. The device itself would be unaffected. You would need power for it and the cell device you have paired with it. The app is on your phone. Parts of it, like the relay via an internet portal to send messages outside the mesh, would be affected to the extent those supporting services are, whether the supporting infrastructure for that went down for physical reasons or just because some future invoice doesn’t get paid. New users would not be able to download the app or maps within goTenna Plus in some scenarios, but that is unlikely to be instantaneous short of planetary-scale destruction.

Other than that, I suspect that for most users things would just go on working.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what would happen to the infrastructure in many such scenarios that open source depends on to function? It’s pretty much gotta have the internet like any other distro so I see no net advantage accruing due to that option.

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That is my personal perspective, I am not looking for something I have to build or tinker with, I want an out of the box solution, which I think Gotenna mesh does very well. My only concern really is the longevity of these devices. Say the company does a fantastic job, goes stratospheric and turns itself to larger projects and away from individual consumers, or as you say the proverbial bill doesn’t get paid, will the app continue to work? Can it be downloaded from anywhere other than the playstore? Is there anything stopping me buying 4 units and 4 cheap phones, downloading the app, then putting them in a sealed box for 10 years?

I did not say anything about open source I pointed to standards, the code can be proprietary.

I am thinking standards such as

IEEE 802

I have no objection to GoTenna i think its a great product I just wish the underlying protocol was documented in a standard so others could design build and market products that could interoperate. Again no mention of open source. which has its place and I agree defiantly has faults.

@Zasta - Well, I got a flash drive labeled “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) and a small OTG dongle in my go bag. Has a live Linux distribution. And important documents on a Veracrypt data store. I’ve also included important APK’s. OSMAND with my country’s offline map and the goTenna APK among others.

And yes, the goTenna app can be installed with a freshly wiped phone with no connectivity at all.

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Similarly, a couple of years ago I realised that I have a spare external hd, so I downloaded Wikipedia and a load of educational stuff, and update it twice a year. Hopefully i will never need it, but it yards the same shelf space as the empty drive did so why not :slight_smile:

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The reference to the LoRa project you cited suggested to me that perhaps you were suggesting open source projects more generally. Nothing wrong with open source, it’s just that I think it’s been beat to death as somehow what goTenna should be, while I think goTenna has been making a good effort to open up as much of the system as possible. Sorry if I mistook your angle on this.

I’m pretty sure that goTenna Mesh does follow some standards, mainly those that define how the 900 mHz ISM band is used. Here’s a handy reference all in one place:

How or not that interfaces with IEEE’s network standards might be determined there?

Understandable misunderstanding I apologies for the confusion from using that specific link.

Your link is essentially Government rules/regulations. Determining things like maximum radiated power, requirements for good engineering, removable antennas, and what modes (digital, spread spectrum, FM, AM, etc) are allowed in specified frequency bands. In more human terms the poor analogy might be similar to requiring the use of one of the following in a particular area, hand signals, spoken languages, or written communication. Note it does not define specifically which language is to be used.

The IEEE and other industry standards set definitions for the structure of the content of the signals. Another way of looking at it would be they define the “language and syntax” used to allow information to move between equipment from various manufactures.


It is the development or use of a standards based mesh protocol that I would prefer to see here, which would go toward addressing the OP concern over the continued usefulness of this equipment. If it were standards based an individual or group that invested in goTenna equipment would have the option of gracefully transitioning to another suppliers products while continuing to use the existing equipment till failure or a time of their choosing.

Additionally it could expand adoption of the technology, as there would be other options available in the market capable of working together. One could imagine a company in that environment might offer a product that would act as a full repeater or “MOAN” :slight_smile: which looking at this forum would be a welcome product to we who are excited by the idea of this tech. (assuming they can do so within the FCC/government regulations)

Hopefully that clarifies my thoughts. :smile:

As far as the app, yes. There are plenty of places where you can get the app not through the play store (and if you’re concerned about that sort of thing you probably should right now). The same exists for iOS, but the way Apple handles authentication for apps, any apps from a third party need Enterprise License authorization from Apple, which isn’t supposed to be used for distributing apps outside of a corporate internal environment, development or otherwise. So successfully running apps from non-App Store sources is challenging. Long term though, I would think the GoTenna API for use with enabling any computer applications to communicate without a central network would be the more important bit.

That said, I too got my GoTenna units more as an off the grid back up solution, it’s unlikely I’d use it myself regularly with the possible exception of with family when traveling to a foreign country where I don’t want to pay for all of us to have cell service.

In the event anything truly catastrophic did occur though, unlicensed radio transmissions really become a non-issue. So I’d totally ignore the “6 hop” limit then. (Which is imposed by the U.S. government, who decided to police the electromagnet radiation that flows through the air.)

I also maintain offline backups of a bunch of important stuff from the internet. And anything I ever download for any reason I keep. I also check most everything I download from anywhere to see if it exists on and add it if it doesn’t. I also contribute storage space to the ‘s backup of the Internet Archive.

This got a bit off-topic, but as was already said, everything should still work, except for some bits that rely on external services like Twilio to relay SMS messages. And maps probably come from another location (but the subscription to use those features wouldn’t work in that scenario anyways). If you’re running Android you can get a copy of the app from your phone, download the app from a third party site on your computer, phone, whatever so you’ve got it if you ever need to put it on something. To make sure you have the latest version all the time (I do this), use Titanium Backup (or similar, though I think that’s the best) to routinely backup your phone and include any new app versions. (That can be set to occur automatically) And keep your backups (apps for sure, data optional) off your phone (for storage space reasons). I have kept literally every backup of my S7 Edge that I’ve ever done. (I 7-Zip them so any redundant data from repeat backups doesn’t really take up space.)

archiveteam org has lists of tools and methods to backup your personal data from social media sites and your own computer for long-term offline access if you’re interested.


The only issue I see with that “sealed box” idea, is that the internal batteries of the GoTenna and your smart phones might need replacement. Lithium based batteries will last a long time, and can usually be recharged a thousand times or more… but they will lose charge over time.
Lithium primary cells (disposable cells) can sit on a shelf for a decade, and still be good. That’s why they are the power source for rescue beacons, and things like that.

My understanding is that the 6-hop limit is imposed internally by goTenna in order to preserve functionality of the firmware.

If we’re facing a disaster that outlasts the internal battery,'s lifetime then we may have bigger fish to fry…

It’s not about having a disaster that outlasts the battery, it’s about having kit that I may not need to touch for the next 10 years, will it be useable when they are eventually needed or will they be goosed?

I’m not 100% on the internal design, but I reckon it would work fine, the battery just might not last as long on a charge. Alternatively, if the battery dies completely, it ought to still work off external power without the internal battery even installed (I haven’t dismantled one myself so I’m not 100% on that).

That said, ten years from now you’ll probably have gotten something better anyways, so as much as I’m all for planning… I probably wouldn’t worry about it that far out. If you want to be sure, take it out and charge it up fully at least once a month, that ought to preserve the battery for several years without issue, provided it’s stored in a climate controlled environment.

I haven’t read anything from GoTenna about the matter, but my assumption about the 6 hip limit was that it was imposed by the government, the FCC in the United States. Similar to how “wifi relays” are illegal across property lines in the United States.

If you’re stashing it away for emergency use, then with this type of battery you should recharge it every six months or so. They’re good at holding a charge, but do need a refresh every so often. With use, they seem to hold up fine. My personal one has been in use daily for 18 moths and no signs of fading. Battery life is typically quoted in recharge cycles, usually around a 1,000 is expected for similar batteries.

I also suspect that CyberVenus has a good point on this. In ten years there will be at least one new generation of the device released, so most users will likely seek that upgrade sooner than a decade.

In the case of the 6-hops limit, there are several articles by goTenna’s chief scientist who explains that it’s the difficulties in getting the algorithm to behave past 6-hops that’s the problem. It’s a 2-parter, starting here:

I’m sure this is not a hard limit, just one that will require some skillful coding to overcome.

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My understanding is that there is no such limit based on “property lines” for WiFi. In my area, I can “see” WiFi signals from more than a dozen nearby locations. Radio signals do not respect a property line. It’s up the owner of the wireless router to protect their content by using an encryption technique. Almost all routers in this area are secure, and you can’t connect without knowing the proper password.