Text Away With No Wi-Fi Nor Data Plan
Oh, the things we Gen Xers will likely never take for granted! Making good use of old phones is one of them! My friend the other day was raving about how her son and a few of his friends had gotten a taste of independence recently when they were set free at the ballpark, able to roam around and check out the vendors and do a little sightseeing. No, they didn’t have data plans, but good ol’ Wi-Fi enabled them to have a little network, so that they all could all meet up at a certain time and place. Needless to say, their folks had piece of mind and their old phones were put to use well. But what if we wished to take advantage of that same commodity, and there were no Wi-Fi access?
Surprisingly, Wi-Fi accessibility is still not to be depended on in many locations. Jott, a messaging app that works without a data plan or WiFi connection, has spread like a wildfire among junior high and high school students, according to co-founder Jared Allgood, He claims that the app more than doubled to half a million active users in March; that’s up from 150,000 active previously active users. The app is gaining 15,000 to 20,000 users a day, and the target niche is merely American teens.
Makes one think more globally! In developing countries up to half of smartphone users turn off their data because it is just too costly! The prospects of Jott reaching millions of users in areas where Wi-Fi is even less accessible is a huge one, but for now the focus is on young users in America, and then we will see what develops!
Jott’s solution is based on something called mesh networking, which is a cutting-edge form of “data plumbing,” that turns individual smartphones into de facto cell towers, so long as they are connected to Jott. The mesh network is created through the connection of wireless access points installed at each network user’s locale (node to node). As it is working so well in schools and centralized areas that have a large congregation of smartphone owners, wireless mesh networking shows great promise to those living in remote areas and small businesses in rural neighborhoods.
Similarly tackling the challenge of those who have no carrier or WiFi signal, FireChat launched in March 2014. It uses mesh networking to enable large groups of people at events. Like Burning Man or the recent student protests in Hong Kong to send messages within large mobile chat rooms. When there are several thousands of people united in a centralized location (“sweet spot”) the sheer density of users lends itself to exploring possibilities, as well as encountering challenges (if the numbers become too high).
Using Wi-Fi radio and Bluetooth radio technology and figuring out the best methods in which to use the mesh network to send messages is all going to be ironed out in time. As this technology advances, we can thank our teens for being the lab rats, and if it lightens our pocketbook, too, perhaps we will tell a friend, and so on…..