The internet in today’s world is far from perfect and all-encompassing – in many parts of the globe, stable internet connection is a luxury. Furthermore, with the FCC about to end net neutrality, our day-to-day internet connection might not be as reliable and private as we think. And this is exactly what the New York-based startup goTenna wishes to mitigate.
Founded in 2012 by Brazilian siblings Daniela and Jorge Perdomo, goTenna will be partnering with Samourai wallet to launch an Android app this summer that facilitates Bitcoin transactions between users in situations where there is no internet connection.
Privacy and Decentralization as Primary Focus
Initially designed for users to send messages to one another, goTenna is a small radio device that syncs with your phone and allows you to send encrypted messages to other goTenna users within a one-mile radius. This system is basically foolproof as it works even when there is no mobile signal, and this is thanks to the mesh network a decades-old system for using the internet without wifi or a landline. Since the messages are being relayed across the mesh network, they are essentially untraceable.
This idea of privacy and decentralization quickly struck a chord within the cryptocurrency community. In an interview with CoinDesk, goTenna engineer Richard Meyers explained the potential applications of the mesh network when it comes to cryptocurrency transactions.
“It offers an alternative that is more censorship-resistant,” Meyers explained. “It’s going to obscure who you are and where you’re at when making these transactions. So that’s a big privacy advantage there.”
“You need to be able to spend your Bitcoin even in disaster areas,” Meyers added, referring to the Perdomo siblings’ recent work in Puerto Rico, where goTenna devices helped people reconnect after Hurricane Maria. “As long as you have a way to charge your phone, you can be up and meshed and communicating.”
And that’s it – once you are connected with your goTenna device, you will be able to send a Bitcoin transaction, which will bounce across the mesh network until it finds your recipient. The entire process is encrypted as the mesh network uses free, unlicensed radio frequency. Therefore, no one will able to decipher your identity even if they manage to intercept your Bitcoins mid-transaction – which, in itself, is a near-impossible feat.
These goTenna devices retail for $179 a pair and have sold over 100,000 devices so far.