It's now been more than seven months since we first caught wind of the Serval project, which promised to allow Android users to make phone calls when conventional cell networks aren't available or simply don't work. Recently, however, the team's initial stab at network-free communication - an Android app called "Serval Mesh" - has landed in the Market.

As briefly mentioned in the above video, the Serval team also has another form of network-less phone calls in the pipelines: an inexpensive, relatively small phone tower that can be dropped into disaster areas by air.

In the meantime, you can check out the app using the QR code and link below, or learn more about the future of the Serval Project by visiting their website.

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • http://www.dainbinder.com Dain Binder

    Very interesting concept! I gave it a try and did not have luck connecting; it certainly is still being tested and tweaked.

    Did anyone get it to work?

    • http://www.servalproject.org/ Jeremy Lakeman

      If you could email our developer mailing list ([email protected]) with any feedback on your type of phone and more information about any errors you encountered that would be very helpful.

  • Ray

    If this is possible, why are we doing communication the way we presently are?

    • Coldman

      Because it relies on something to transmit the data - except instead of long-range towers, it uses ad-hoc towers or other devices.

      • Ray

        "Communicate anywhere, any time … without infrastructure, without mobile towers, without satellites, without wifi hotspots, and without carriers. Use existing off-the-shelf mobile cell phone handsets. Use your existing mobile phone number wherever you go, and never pay roaming charges again."
        ^--from the developer's webpage home. I realize this can not be software only, but what is it using at this time? The market page also states it bridges the gap by allowing devices to communicate directly with one another. What am I missing as the under educated potential user who doesn't understand how this could benefit the less fortunate without the construction of new infrastructure?

        • http://www.servalproject.org/ Jeremy Lakeman

          If you go to McDonalds and use their free internet connection from your phone, you're connecting to their wifi access point using the wifi radio hardware in your phone. We use the same radio to connect directly between phones, without depending on an access point.

  • Skitchbeatz

    I am confused as well

  • Josh

    Sounds like a great idea! However after installing it it broke Sprint Wifi Hotspot on my phone....

  • islandak

    I read about something similar. The handsets act as repeaters and the more users in the area the better the network.

    This has huge potential in underdeveloped areas. India and Africa for example.

    • Ray

      More users = better network??? That's a refreshing idea! Lol. There are plenty of rural areas in all countries that could benefit from this.

    • Deadful

      I'm not sure that is how this one works. If you are right, than that is great! The video led me to think otherwise. It is a bit cryptic.

  • Deadful

    The video said it used radio waves to connect directly to another mobile. That is why the range is only 150 meters max without a booster like the one they put in the tree. Esentially, it turns your phone into a walkie talkie. I could see how this could have been useful to me when I went to a convention with friends last month. Cool concept, but it will not be taking the world by storm as a way of eliminating carriers from the equation because of its limitations.

    • Burritoman

      I don't think its purpose is to eliminate carriers. This is particularly useful in disaster areas where communications have been knocked out.

  • anon

    And this is different to a walkie talkie how?

  • http://lane.net.nz Dave Lane

    Based on hearing a talk by the developers, Serval lets you link to other walkie talkies within the range of any walkie talkie that's in range with you. And it lets you use the normal call/SMS mechanisms on your phone as far as I know.

    In a disaster where, for example, there are no working cell towers, you can contact other Serval phones directly or via a chain of intermediate Serval phones with voice and sms traffic. Would've been pretty handy in Japan a few months back, or in Christchurch, NZ, where I happen to live.