Feature Article

February 22, 2016

FireChat Messenger Doesn't Need Your Cellular Networks or Wi-Fi

Most people in the world are now interconnected due to widespread mobile device adoption, which has broken down most barriers to communication. The next logical step in the evolution of this technology, according to a new San Francisco-based startup called Open Garden, is to reduce or even eliminate the costs of these communications so that everyone can enjoy unbridled access.

Open Garden has implemented the ANT protocol developed by ANT Wireless to make its FireChat mobile app the first messaging app to offer entirely free communications, without the need for a data plan or even access to a cellular network or the Internet. ANT is an ultra-low power (ULP) multicast wireless networking protocol that uses innovative peer-to-peer mesh networking technology to facilitate direct connections between devices. ANT networks have traditionally been found in sports and fitness sensors, but this announcement reflects ANT Wireless’ efforts to diversify use cases for the unique technology and find new ways to serve the public.

“Our technology solution is perfectly suited for cutting-edge applications such as FireChat,” said James Fujimoto, Director of ANT Wireless. “It's great to see how Open Garden is taking advantage of ANT's ULP practical wireless networking capabilities to pioneer innovation in wireless technology.”

FireChat’s unique ability to enable direct connections between devices (as of now, only those running the Android OS) is beneficial for those who want to cut back on mobile data usage or are attempting to communicate with others on a network that is over capacity (such as at a music festival), but the app is potentially an immense asset to people who can’t even afford a data plan. As society progresses this seems to be an indicator that mobile communications is slowly becoming a right, not just a privilege, and companies like Open Garden are aggressively moving into unoccupied market niches to cater to people who can greatly benefit from free communications.

This incredible new functionality has the power to make FireChat an extremely popular option for people from all walks of life, all around the world. The ability to “build your own Internet,” as Open Garden puts it, has the potential to spark a whole new generation of mobile communications. The app is available for free, and only requires FireChat to be installed on the device of whoever one is trying to communicate with in order to work.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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