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Hot Take: goTenna EdgeRelay vs. goTenna Pro X2 in “Relay Mode”

As part of the Hot Takes series, we’ll take a highly debated topic and explore the pros and cons of both sides. During each debate, you’ll hear from goTenna experts who offer hands-on experience working with customers and deploying goTenna Pro X2 devices in the field. Leave a comment below, or sign up for a future debate!

goTenna recently announced the launch of an exciting new product, the EdgeRelay. The EdgeRelay is designed to operate at the edge, where it can provide a backbone of network connectivity, communications, and situational awareness for operators in the field.

However, goTenna’s Pro X2 device has long offered a “relay mode” capability, allowing a single goTenna Pro X2 to be placed strategically for the same purpose. So, why would a law enforcement organization, government agency, or other user choose to deploy the new EdgeRelay device when a single goTenna Pro X2 would suffice?

The Last Mile recently asked goTenna team members Mike Gibbs and Luke Stewart to share their perspectives on the different reasons, scenarios, and situations in which tactical operators would choose one device or the other.

Mike Gibbs is the Associate Director of Customer Experience at goTenna. He is a United States Army (Retired) communications professional with over twenty-one years of active Army service and fifteen years of Special Operations Forces (SOF) experience. Luke also served in the U.S. Army and has hands-on experience as a former firefighter and police dispatcher. As a civilian, Luke is currently the VP of Customer Experience at goTenna.

Luke – EdgeRelay
Yes, the goTenna Pro X2 in Relay Mode could technically function as a relay that creates a bubble of connectivity over an area of operations – giving tactical operators access to the essential communications and situational awareness capabilities they need to collaborate on the mission.

In fact, we’ve had a lot of fun at goTenna using everything from duct tape to a 550 paracord to attach a Pro X2 to practically anything you can imagine—from railings on high balconies in cities to arbitrary tripods on mountaintops in the middle of nowhere. We’ve even duct-taped the little guys to the bottom of drones, put them in protective cases, and attached them to weather balloons.

But sometimes, you need something semi-permanent that will function exactly where you and your teammates need it, when you need it. This is why the EdgeRelay is such an exciting solution.

The EdgeRelay is a hardened, ruggedized device that can be customized to meet the needs of multiple disparate environments and use cases. It can survive the harsh, unforgiving conditions it might face in incredibly austere, geographically isolated environments. The enclosure was designed and manufactured by goTenna in conjunction with Bunker Supply to be fully environmentally protected, with an IP65+ rating. It also offers multiple tamper-resistance options, shock and vibration absorption, lightning protection, and rodent-resistant cabling.

But the EdgeRelay isn’t just durable; it’s also flexible. Thanks to its inherent customization, it can adapt to the specific needs and requirements of the team and the environment in which it’s deployed.

The EdgeRelay is capable of running multiple networks at the same time because it contains two goTenna Pro X Series devices inside. Broadcasting on multiple networks at once can have numerous advantages for missions involving a diverse set of organizations, including multi-agency disaster relief responses and operations involving friendly forces.

For example, the EdgeRelay offers multiple mounting options. Mounting this device makes it possible to quickly and conveniently deploy the solution on a radio tower, attach it to a pole, or even mount it to a wall. It was designed to make it theft and tamper-resistant, ensuring that it can be deployed in remote locations and still be available and present when needed. Also, the different power options available on the EdgeRelay ensure that it can stay powered up and function in perpetuity wherever it is. These options include solar, direct current (D.C.), and ground power connectivity through an equipped AC-to-DC converter.

Ultimately, EdgeRelay is the preeminent mobile mesh networking solution for organizations that need to deploy a semi-permanent mesh network in a strategic location. It can be installed, connected to a power source, and continue functioning for days, months, or years – providing mission-critical communications and situational awareness over an area spanning hundreds of square miles.

Mike – goTenna Pro X2 in “Relay Mode”
Luke is completely correct. EdgeRelay is an amazing solution for delivering mission-critical communications and connectivity over a large operating area, especially in a region with no terrestrial networks or cellular connectivity, delivering reliable communications that are “always on” when tactical operators need them.

But what happens when operations occur in a new place or location? What happens when the military or law enforcement organizations need to quickly and easily deploy interoperable communications over a wide area to enable collaboration and coordination for a one-time mission or operation?

For one-time, discreet military operations, law enforcement operations in temporary zones, and other one-off scenarios, leveraging a standard goTenna Pro X2 in “Relay Mode” is a viable alternative. In fact, it can be a superior alternative due to the small size and lightweight nature of the goTenna Pro X2, which weighs approximately 3.5 oz.

As Luke mentioned, we’ve attached the goTenna Pro X Series of devices to various aerial vehicles, ranging from aerostats to drones. When elevated high above an area of operations, we’ve been able to connect operators more than 150 miles away. This setup doesn’t require any special equipment—it can even be done with zip ties, paracord, or duct tape.

While the goTenna Pro X2 will eventually need to be recharged – after approximately nine hours of operation – it can rapidly, easily, and conveniently be leveraged in practically any operating environment to establish interoperable comms that can connect tactical operators from one or multiple government agencies. It doesn’t even require significant technical knowledge or IT skills to use.

While the EdgeRelay is an optimal solution for deploying a semi-permanent mobile mesh network in an area that otherwise lacks communication services, tactical operators have other options for hasty deployments in dynamic environments. The goTenna Pro X2 set to “Relay Mode” can do the job if the requirement is temporary or a smaller, lighter solution is needed.

To learn more about the goTenna EdgeRelay, click HERE.

Disclaimer: Please note, for all aerial assets, be sure to follow any applicable government regulations and restrictions during your deployment.

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The Author

Ryan Schradin

Ryan Schradin

Ryan Schradin is the Executive Editor of The Last Mile. A communications expert and journalist with over a decade of experience, Ryan has edited and contributed to multiple popular online trade publications focused on unified communications and network infrastructure industries.

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