As things get more and more tense in Algeria in the run-up to the 12/12 elections, it is not excluded that the authorities shut off the internet. So how to message without the internet?
Of course, smartphones made it easier to cover and organize protests in Algeria, but they’re completely of no use when cell towers get overloaded with traffic or when the authorities decide to shut off the internet.
We will give you examples of applications that can be used without the internet.
In Hong Kong, demonstrators have turned to FireChat, an app that allows users to communicate or send texts even when they can’t get online.
Unlike chat programs that work over the internet, FireChat connects directly to other nearby users within up to about 80 meters. More people in range can then join the chat, extending the network even further. Every new user increases the network’s range and strength. In this way, you can get up to a few thousand people chatting away, all without anybody connected to the internet.
The advantages of FireChat are:
- Instantly chat with anyone around you,
- Works even without any internet connection or mobile phone coverage,
- Use the “Nearby” mode for off-the-grid communications, up to 80 meters of your location,
- Create your own ‘firechats’ for live discussions with up to tens of thousands of simultaneous users,
- Choose your own unique username and avatar,
- No significant impact on battery consumption.
FireChat is helpful as it can conveniently help you reach your family or friends even if you don’t have an internet connection or even a signal on your phone. The app relies on the presence of other users, so it makes sense to have each friend install this app. For messages to be sent without data, you will still have to keep your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on to send messages to nearby users. It can be very handy if you’re surrounded by cellphone jammers and need to contact someone urgently.
However, a lot depends on how many users are signed up to the app near you, so it may not be as fruitful as one would expect.
FireChat is a free download on the Google Play Store and lacks ads or in-app purchases. The app works with devices running Android 4.2 or higher.