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goTenna was founded in 2012 with the goal of making P2P communication possible without standard connective technologies like WiFi and cellular. One of their first products was a radio antenna (goTenna) that hooked up to your phone and could send/receive messages to other goTenna users. The below video from 2014 has a lot of information about these earlier initiatives.

(The product/company discussions starts around 7:06). There is also a good teardown here.

Fast forward to today, goTenna has over $40 million in funding, with their latest C round at $24 million. TechCrunch interviewed co-founder Daniela Perdomo where they talked about the development and value inherent in their mesh network. There are all kinds of connected devices and a variety of unreliable communication methods that are ready to be replaced.

“No matter how many satellites you put up, repeaters you put up, cables you lay down, you always have that last mile. You need resiliency, access, and I believe neutrality as well,” she said. And indeed you’re not going to take a Starlink ground station with you on a covert operation or into an active wildfire. And having an existing, ongoing business agreement with a satellite communications provider may not even be desirable in the first place.

The public sector and enterprise customers are driving the demand for their products and technology. It’s valuable for all the reasons of its initial iteration, which is p2p communication via radio waves, but the use cases for its mesh network continue to grow as the Internet of Things becomes more ubiquitous and more reliant on technology that is powerful, but not always reliable. Consumers like the military can’t risk being outside of cellular range.

“We’ve been in R&D for a really long time,” Perdomo said. “It’s exciting now to also be becoming a business. All of the most impressive mainstream telecommunications technologies we use today, things like the internet or GPS, they hit it out of the park with the public sector first. If you can win there, in life or death situations, you know you can win everywhere else as well.”

Really though, if goTenna wins big with public contracts, it won’t ever have to worry about consumer markets. The federal government has a big checkbook.

Read the whole TechCrunch piece here.