Now You Can Get Online From Pretty Much Anywhere

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 4 2014 6:44 PM

Now You Can Get Online From Pretty Much Anywhere

iridium
The Iridium GO! is a tiny device that can give you wi-fi for up to five devices basically anywhere on earth.

Photo by Iridium.

Worldwide, it can be difficult to get Internet access in remote locations. And satellite service hasn't emerged as the answer in rural or extreme locations because it can be prohibitively expensive. But if you have about $800 and the need for data speed on a mountain or deep in the woods, there's an answer for you.

The Iridium GO! generates a Wi-Fi network that can have up to five devices connected to it. Speeds are pretty dial-up-y (2.4 to 2.8Kbps), but the use case for the GO! is more avalanche survival research than Daily Show streaming. And the data connection can, of course, be used for phone calls and texting in addition to Web browsing.

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The device is 10.4 ounces, so not the lightest but pretty small, and you need to have the Iridium app pre-downloaded on your iOS or Android device in order to connect to the network. You also have to go through the app for all of your Internet use, phone calls, texting, and emergency services, but at least once the app is in place you only have to open the antenna to get things working. The GO! searches for a satellite connection and gets a Wi-Fi signal with an 100-foot range going without any other inputs. The sky needs to be visible over the antenna for the device to really work, so no dense canopy or caves, but other than that the GO! basically works anywhere.

Iridium is partnering with retailers for data plans, but they should be in the $35 to $130 range depending on how much data is included per month. That plus the initial cost of the device makes the GO! kind of niche, but if you're going to be in a scenario where it could really make a difference, it might be worth it, and it could definitely make sense for a group or team. When you're checking scorpion sting symptoms on MayoClinic.org from the Gobi Desert, it's going to feel like money well spent.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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