Our Mesh Protocol

Scalable networking for virtually any device.

Used by military & emergency response professionals, goTenna's Aspen Grove™ makes long-range, short-burst, low-SWaP mobile mesh networking available for everyone. A novel zero-control-packet approach to achieve unprecedented network efficiency.

What is mesh networking?
Historically, communications started between sender & receiver.
Eventually, networks expanded to a “hub-and-spoke” model.
Known as centralized communications.
Mesh networking eliminates the “hub” in the model.
Nodes communicate using peer-to-peer wireless links.
Messages hop from one device through another, & land at a third (or fourth, etc.).

Mesh networking over the decades.


ARPANET — Precursor to the internet


DARPA Packet Radio Network (PRNET)


DARPA Survivable Adaptive Network (SURAN)
Research on fundamentals of meshing begins


DARPA GloMo, Small Unit Operations (SUO now SRW)
Mobile Ad Hoc Network “MANET” coined
IETF MANET working group established
Enabler: IEEE 802.1
Startups emerge
Research accelerates


Early sensor networks
IEEE 802.11s
IEEE 802.16a
Dynamic spectrum access
Community wireless


Internet of Things
goTenna's mesh network

Quote Carousel

We call our mesh network ‘Aspen Grove’ because aspens are one tree with an interconnected root system. We thought that was an excellent symbol of our interconnected nature without a single point of failure.
—Daniela Perlein, Founder

What makes goTenna's mesh protocol unique?

Traditional Mesh

Traditional protocols use dedicated control packets.

Overhead increases proportional to size, leaving littleroom for data in low-bit-rate networks.

Aspen Grove Mesh

Aspen Grove™ utilizes information within data packets in place of control packets.

Overhead growth is contained, allowing dramatically higher scalability, improved packet delivery, and improved battery life.

Traditional Mesh

Traditional protocols use dedicated control packets.

Overhead increases proportional to size, leaving little
 room for data in low-bit-rate networks.

Aspen Grove Mesh

Aspen Grove utilizes information within data packets in place of control packets.

Overhead growth is contained, allowing dramatically higher scalability.

What makes goTenna's protocol
scale better?

Aspen Grove’s patented zero-control-packet approach is much more efficient than existing protocols, enabling unprecedented scalability at low bit rates.

The key benefits of the Aspen Grove protocol set apply to many types of wireless or wired communications. Today, Aspen Grove is implemented in the Pro X Series products to promote the scalable distribution of low-bandwidth information. These data types include SMS, PLI, map objects, voice messages, low-resolution images, and sensor information.

This is achieved on considerably narrow bandwidths of less than 25 kHz, roughly 1/1000 the bandwidth used by other mesh radios, and 1/5000 the bandwidth used by many WiFi systems. Aspen Grove will continue to provide efficient networking for low-bandwidth information types while also expanding to support high-bandwidth information for novel systems.

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VINE vs. competition*

ECHO vs. competition*

* R. Ramanathan et al, “Long-Range Short-Burst Mobile Mesh Networking” Proc. IEEE SECON, June 2019 (Winner Best Poster Paper award)

What can you do
with goTenna running Aspen Grove?

Our goal is to make everyone geographically and situationally aware. To see how Aspen Grove is used operationally, visit our goTenna Pro X2 page.

Explore goTenna Pro X2

Aspen Grove FAQs

Are there other mesh networking protocols?

Yes, there are several other protocols for mesh networking. Some better-known ones are AODV (Ad Hoc  On-Demand Distance Vector) and OLSR (Optimized Link State Routing), and B.A.T.M.A.N (Better Approach to Mobile Ad Hoc Networking).

Why not use already existing mesh protocols for goTenna devices? Why Aspen Grove?

There are many reasons, but the two primary ones are as follows. First, most well-developed mesh networking protocols are designed for unicast (one-to-one) traffic, whereas goTenna use cases are overwhelmingly broadcast (one-to-many). Second, goTenna devices trade radio bitrate for best-in-class range and super-low cost, and existing protocols scale poorly at these rates.

How is Aspen Grove different from other mesh networking protocols?

There are a lot of differences,  but the key one is that all other mesh networking protocols -- other than naive flooding -- use control packets. The actual data packets (which contain information like the text content) then use the information derived from control packets for routing. Aspen Grove is a zero-control-packet protocol, which means it does not use any control packets. As a result, Aspen Grove scales better in low-bitrate networks.

Does Aspen Grove accommodate node mobility?

Yes, Aspen Grove fully accommodates the mobility of nodes.

What are some of the components of Aspen Grove?

Aspen Grove can be roughly partitioned into four main components: (a) broadcast and unicast routing of messages over the mesh network; (b) efficient sharing of the channel; (c) managing the sleep-wake cycle of devices, and (d) managing end-to-end retransmissions and for reliability. Note that applications, end-to-end encryption, and key management are NOT part of Aspen Grove.

What are the individual protocols comprising Aspen Grove? At what layers?

Aspen Grove has two protocols at the network layer, ECHO and VINE for broadcast routing and unicast routing respectively. At the MAC layer it currently has a protocol called G-CSMA (goTenna Carrier Sense Multiple Access) which will be replaced by SPIN (Slot Pinning), as well as a sleep management technique. It will have a transport layer protocol for segmentation, reassembly and retransmissions (similar to TCP but simpler).

Isn’t Aspen Grove — being a new approach — pretty risky to put in a product?

Although it is fairly different and innovative, Aspen Grove borrows several tried-and-tested ideas from decades of mesh networking to put together. In other words, it “stands on the shoulders of others” to reach a bit beyond. The Chief Scientist at goTenna has over 20+ years of experience building MANET protocols for the military, and the Firmware Director has 20+ years of experience in embedded systems. Our experience allows synthesis in a risk-free manner. Detailed evaluations and 1+ years of fielding show that Aspen Grove works well.

Can Aspen Grove only be used with goTenna devices?

Currently, yes, but in principle, there is nothing fundamental about Aspen Grove that ties it to a particular device. Most parts of Aspen Grove, except perhaps the sleep-wake cycling part, are portable to other devices as long as they provide a rudimentary interface functionality.

What versions of Aspen Grove exist or are in the works?

Aspen Grove 1.0 is currently deployed on the goTenna Pro X and contains the ECHO routing protocol for broadcasting (shouts/PLIs), and an efficient lightweight medium access protocol called g-CSMA (g for goTenna). Aspen Grove 1.1 adds the VINE protocol and more improvements to the MAC protocol that we now call g-CSMA (g for goTenna), and many efficiencies to headers and sleep-wake cycling. Aspen Grove 1.2 will add the SPIN protocol at the MAC layer for significantly more efficient access resulting in hop and size increases.

Will 5G make Aspen Grove or the goTenna device obsolete?

Absolutely not. 5G and the goTenna device occupy different regions of the capacity-range tradeoff space. Further, 5G requires expensive cellular infrastructure and is centralized, making it a poor fit for public safety, disaster relief and the military where goTenna excels.

Where does Aspen Grove live? In the hardware or the phone paired with a goTenna device?

Neither. Aspen Grove lives in the firmware of the device. Firmware can be thought of as embedded software that runs in the CPU of a printed circuit board. This software performs mesh networking functions. The board also consists of other components such as a radio frequency transceiver (transmitter + receiver) which is used to send bits over the air. The transceiver is not part of Aspen Grove. Applications (e.g. ATAK) are not part of Aspen Grove.

What's next for Aspen Grove?

We plan to support our goTenna customer base with new collaborative mapping features in our native iOS/Android mobile app. These updates will benefit organizations that want access to industry-leading situational awareness tools at a lower price point.

We are providing goTenna Pro X and goTenna Pro X2 customers with an expanded selection of supported software app integrations as well as SDK improvements for third-party developers. These changes will benefit organizations with existing software tools for situational awareness as well as command and control.

We are also developing formal partnerships with complementary cellular, satellite and data radio providers for seamless information-sharing from connected command centers to off-grid operators in the field.

Questions? Contact us.

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