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Mobile Communication Is Possible Even without Cellular or Internet Connection

Cropped screenshot of the official MeshMe website.

Did you know that you can still use your smartphone even if it loses its connection to your cellular network or even without Wi-Fi? Yes, mobile communication is still possible even when the network loses signal, is nonexistent, or when there is no Wi-Fi Internet connection to rely on. This is possible through an app called MeshMe, dubbed as an “offline chat app.”

The MeshMe Offline Chat App

This post is actually late but since we have just discovered this excellent communication application, we can only do so much to write a quick post about it. The app was launched late last year, on November 18 to be specific. It is a messaging and location sharing app designed to enable communication without relying on traditional connections. It is an excellent option for areas where there are many smartphones being used but the networks are frequently overloaded or when there is no signal available. MeshMe allows users to chat with several other users even when their devices are on airplane mode.

Screenshot of the official MeshMe website

How It Works

As mentioned, MeshMe is a communication app that works without a cellular network and without the need for Wi-Fi connection. It is designed to provide continuous smartphone connectivity. However, it is not intended to disregard cellular networks or Wi-Fi connections when they are available. It is designed to be a complementary technology, not something that totally replaces current cellular networks.

For MeshMe to work, the following will be essential: a smartphone and Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. Obviously, a feature phone or a non-smartphone won’t work since it can’t allow the installation of the app. Either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity will suffice although Wi-Fi is more preferable for the lower power consumption and wider range.

MeshMe makes use of a technology called mesh networking, wherein each smartphone (where MeshMe is installed) gains the functionality of a router. In a mesh network of smartphones (and tablets), data or messages are passed from one device to another until they reach the intended recipient. MeshMe scans and analyzes the mesh network for the fastest possible way through which the messages can be transmitted. Although the messages are passed through various devices in the mesh network, those that are not meant to be the recipients (supposedly) cannot read the message.

MeshMe “asks” devices near you if they know the person to whom you want to send a message. Once the person (device) is found, the application routes the message in the most efficient path possible. If one or more of the smartphones in the path is turned off, MeshMe will automatically establish a new efficient connection.

Range and Limitations

Since MeshMe makes use of Wi-Fi (no Internet connection necessary) and Bluetooth connections, a mesh network is possible if the available devices are close to each other by 20 to 30 meters (for Wi-Fi) or 10 to 15 meters (for Bluetooth). To clarify, this does not mean that communication is only possible within a maximum of 30 meters. The 30-meter maximum range is the maximum distance between devices to be able to reach each other via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This means that connection is possible within 300 meters or more if there are 10 or more smartphones that are 30 meters apart from each other and can communicate with each other (via Wi-Fi).

MeshMe only enables the sending and receiving of text messages for now. Calls are not yet allowed given the nature of the network although it does not seem impossible.

Availability

Unfortunately, MeshMe is only available for the iPhone as of now. A version for Android devices, as mentioned by MeshMe CEO Jory Schwach, was said to be coming several months later. There is no word on when a Windows Mobile version will be released or if there are any plans of developing a version for it.

By Kelvinsong (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kelvinsong (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Outlook

Obviously, this kind of technology is bound to make carriers unnecessary or irrelevant. Hence, it can only be expected that it will not receive support from cellular networks. Just remember what AT&T did to Samsung Galaxy S5’s LTE-Wi-Fi hybrid mode (they disabled it) after apparently realizing how their customers will enjoy better speeds on mobile without the need to upgrade to their more expensive packages.

The best thing that will happen with MeshMe technology is for more people to use it to create a bigger network that will create interconnections among people. However, this will likely entail security issues.Since not many has used the app yet, vulnerabilities are yet to be uncovered. Certainly, there are many possible security and privacy issues in the app and its underlying framework but the technology is worth trying and exploiting.

By Intel Free Press [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Intel Free Press [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MeshMe is not the first to offer the ability for smartphones to communicate without cellular or Wi-Fi connection. FireChat, back in March 2014, also introduced the capability of text messaging without Internet connection. It is likely that more similar apps will be developed. We just hope that at least one of them becomes highly popular so its development can be advanced and many would be interested in exploring the vulnerabilities and in introducing improvements.

  • Disgusted

    Since this is 2018 and MeshMe is no where to be seen, I’d say it did not make the cut. FireChat on the other hand is still going strong and possibly had a hand in causing MeshMe to tank (first to market…) I have been searching for remnants of information about MeshMe and basically they seem to have gone quietly into the night of tech irrelevance.