Russia Blocks Zello – UPDATE 4/13/17

By Nancy on April 13, 2017

The core Zello voice services are functioning again, circumventing the Russian block with the exception of image sharing. The zello.com website and password recovery services are not available in Russia.

The Zello team is working on updates to resolve these issues. However, there is the possibility the Russian government and compliant Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will impair services again.

Russia Blocks Zello

By Nancy on April 13, 2017

This evening, Russia blocked Zello. This action follows a notice we received last week from the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor that Zello is not in compliance with a law that governs information distribution brokers (Article 10.1 of the Federal Law of 27.07.2006 number 149-FZ).

“Information distribution broker” is how the Russian law describes Internet communications services and includes messenger apps, email providers, and social networks. The law requires that all such services store all application messages and user data in Russia. We would be required to provide this data to law enforcement upon their request. We would also provide law enforcement with the means of surveillance on Zello conversations globally and would have to share all Zello encryption keys with FSB, the Russian state security organization.

These are requirements that we are not able to meet or willing to comply with, even if we could.

Zello is popular in Russia, with more than 400,000 active users there. Like Zello users everywhere, Russians use the app to connect with family members and friends and to participate in social, political, and humanitarian conversations and events. But it is also used by search and rescue personnel, taxi services, law enforcement, and drivers needing assistance.

No other global service would be willing to meet this Roskomnadzor law. We cannot speculate why the Russian government is blocking their citizens’ communication through Zello.

Besides Zello, the only other major service known to be blocked is LinkedIn, which also refused to comply with the Roskomnadzor and has been blocked in Russia since November 2016.

Zello Channels are a powerful feature of the app which makes it easy to create groups for public or private conversations. Large numbers of Zello users in Ukraine, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Turkey, and Egypt have relied on Zello to organize democratic political movements in their countries.

Russians who rely on Zello should use VPN solutions to continue using Zello. Zello is working on deploying technology to circumvent the block.

Bill Moore
CEO Zello

Related press coverage from the Roskomnadzor warning last week:
https://globalvoices.org/2017/04/10/russia-blocks-walkie-talkie-app-zello-as-truckers-strike/
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela/roskomnadzor-blocked-zello-app-used-by-striking-truckers/

Story about trucker strike with Zello mention
https://therussianreader.com/tag/zello-walkie-talkie-app/

News from Venezuelan block of Zello
News from Ukraine use of Zello

О возможной блокировке Zello в России

By Alexey Gavrilov on April 8, 2017

Блокировка Zello в России

Важное обновление: 12 апреля 2017 в 23:30 интернет-провайдеры в России начали блокирование Zello. О перебоях в работе приложения сообщайте через канал в Телеграм: https://t.me/zello_ru

Два дня назад мы получили уведомление Роскомнадзора о том, что в случае невыполнения Zello требований статьи 10.1 Федерального закона от 27.07.2006 № 149-ФЗ «Об информации, информационных технологиях и о защите информации» доступ к сайту zello.com и сервису Zello на территории России будет закрыт.

Число активных пользователей Zello в России превышает 400 тысяч человек и наше бесплатное приложение ежедневно используется для взаимопомощи водителей на дорогах, поисково-спасательных работ, в службах такси, для помощи граждан правоохранительным органам, организации мирных протестов, обсуждения общественно-важных тем, поиска друзей и общения.

Статья 10.1 была добавлена в закон 5 мая 2014 года и устанавливает ряд невыполнимых условий для “организаторов распространения информации в Интернете”. Под это намеренно широкое понятие попадают все социальные сети, мессенджеры, провайдеры электронной почты и даже интернет-форумы. Закон устанавливает следующие требования:

  1. Уведомить Роскомнадзор о начале деятельности путем внесения сервиса в специальный реестр
  2. Хранить в течении 1 года на территории РФ логи любого обмена сообщениями между пользователями, а также информацию об этих пользователях и предоставлять ее по запросу правоохранительных органов
  3. Хранить в течении 6 месяцев на территории РФ копию всех (в том числе голосовых) сообщений пользователей и предоставлять их по запросу правоохранительных органов
  4. Обеспечить возможность прослушки сообщений
  5. Предоставить правоохранительным органам ключи шифрования, необходимые для декодирования любых сообщений

Формальным поводом принятия этого закона была заявлена борьба с терроризмом, однако фактически он может быть использован для выборочной блокировки любого неугодного интернет-сервиса. Ранее со ссылкой на этот закон была заблокирована социальная сеть Linkedin, очередная цель — Zello, завтра может быть заблокирован Twitter, Facebook или Telegram.

Требования статьи 10.1 закона 149-ФЗ не только абсурдны с технической точки зрения, но и противоречат принципам Zello, поэтому мы не будем их выполнять.

Поддержите нас, направив жалобу в Роскомнадзор и распространив эту информацию.

Мы надеемся, что блокировка не состоится, либо окажется неэффективной и вы сможете продолжить использовать Zello в обычном режиме. Тем не менее мы рекомендуем всем пользователям подготовиться к неблагоприятному варианту развития событий:

  1. Установите самую новую версию Zello из App Store или Google Play и скачайте клиентское приложение для ПК.
  2. Убедитесь что у вас есть контакты вне Zello всех людей с кем вам важно поддерживать связь.
  3. Установите и попробуйте на вашем телефоне одно из приложений для создания VPN. Мы успешно протестировали с Zello Opera Free VPN для Android и iPhone.
  4. Если вы администрируете канал в Zello, создайте зеркало вашего Zello канала в Telegram или Discord и пригласите туда ваших пользователей.

Zello Celebrates 100 Million Users!

By Nancy on February 1, 2017


It took us almost 9 years to do it, but Zello registered users now exceed 100,000,000! We are very proud and excited about this achievement and want to share it with our Zello fans. Without the support generated through word-of-mouth by our users, we could not have attained this major milestone.

A Little Zello Trivia

Zello started out as “Loudtalks” in Russia back in 2007. The original Loudtalks application was designed for Windows PC, and allowed users to communicate instantly with friends by pushing and holding a hot key. You can still get Zello for Windows from our website. After the official launch on September 17, 2007 at the TechCrunch40 Conference in San Francisco, the service retained a low profile with about 10,000 registered users in the first three months. While traction was slow, the team kept improving the product and introducing new features, all while running the service from a single $200/month server hosted in Houston, TX at ThePlanet.

Everything changed with the release of Loudtalks for Blackberry. It was the first voice communications app on that platform, providing free push-to-talk (PTT) using any carrier network or WiFi. The Loudtalks Blackberry app drew over two million users within the first three weeks of its launch. The little side project was now a full-blown startup venture.

In early 2012, the Loudtalks team permanently relocated to Austin, TX where Loudtalks was rebranded and relaunched as Zello that February. Bill Moore (former founder and the CEO of TuneIn Radio) became the CEO of the newly incorporated, U.S. based company. From the original team of three in 2007, Zello has grown to a team of 16 – still small considering the size of Zello’s user base. Only eight developers support over 100 million users worldwide.

Zello adds ZelloWork, Hardware Vendors, and Software Developer Program

In addition to the free consumer app, we have a paid subscription service called ZelloWork. ZelloWork provides PTT solutions for enterprise and mid-size businesses around the world; it is rapidly becoming the go-to solution for businesses trying to update antiquated radio systems. Major companies such as Starwood, Marriott, W Hotels, Restoration Hardware, IKEA, YRC Freight, Hubspot, and Honda use ZelloWork.

Zello has worked with numerous hardware vendors to offer our users a wide selection of hands-free and enhanced audio solutions. See Zello Accessories for the full list of supported accessories. In addition, Zello has recently added an ISV Developer Program. Third party developers can now integrate ZelloWork into their own apps using SDKs and APIs available from the ZelloWork Developer Program.

Our Users are our Priority

Since its launch, Zello has remained totally free, ad-free and spam-free – and we plan to keep it that way. As we expand and improve our products and services, Zello will continue to remain focused on optimizing the user experience, ensuring a high-quality product, and providing top-notch support. We love hearing from our fans who are using Zello for good causes. Whether it’s connecting people with similar goals/ideologies, reducing crime in neighborhoods, or rescuing people during natural disasters, we are proud that Zello has been chosen to be part of these efforts.

If you are using Zello to improve your community, or have any suggestions on how to take Zello to the next milestone of 1 billion users, we’d love to hear from you! You can send suggestions to info@zello.com or support@zello.com.

Thanks for the Zello Love!

The Power of Zello Channels

By Nancy on November 28, 2016

dreamstime_xs_26580608
Most people know Zello as an app that turns their smartphones, tablets, and PCs into a walkie-talkie. With Zello, you can talk to your family, friends, and colleagues instantly without dialing a phone number. It’s faster and safer than texting, and it doesn’t use phone minutes. Zello is often thought as just another messaging walkie-talkie type app. But there is one unique feature in Zello that sets it apart from other messaging apps… It’s a feature called “channels.”

What are channels? Well, some people liken them to big IRC channel chat rooms or CB radio channels. But there are big differences between Zello channels and these platforms. No other messaging app has a feature comparable to channels. It’s a feature that is probably ahead of its time, but more users are discovering its power to reach people globally in a matter of seconds.

Zello channels are not messaging group chats. Typically, so-called “group chat” apps are not chats at all. That is, you are not “chatting” (talking) to other people. Instead, you are texting to other people. Also, these group chats are usually limited to people who know each other or have been invited. Even if voice-based, messaging group chats are often limited to recordings of voice messages being queued and sent one at a time. Zello channels go beyond the capabilities of most messaging apps:

How does a Zello Channel Differ from Messaging Group Chats?

– It’s instant, live voice. It’s spontaneous communication, not recorded messages
– You can remain anonymous (or not)
– Anyone can create or join a channel in minutes
– Channels are permanent until deleted by the owner (creator)
– There are no distance limitations – talk to people around the corner or across the world
– No special equipment needed – just use your smartphone, tablet, or PC
– No FCC license needed
– Up to 2000+ users can be online at a time, but subscriberships are unlimited
– Channels can be public, pre-approved only, or private by using various privacy settings
– Channels are ad-free and spam free
– Abundance of moderation tools to block or deal with “trolls”
– All conversations are recorded to channel history for later replay and sharing
– You can create an unlimited number of channels
– And most importantly, it’s FREE to use!

The power in channels lies in its unique ability to bring vast numbers of people together quickly to one central communications space. People who do not know each other and live thousands of miles apart can instantly band together to communicate and coordinate. It’s rather like having your own public radio station. You control the content, who is allowed to participate, and when you broadcast. You can send channel alerts to subscribers to alert them about upcoming events on the channel. You can also share images and text messages on the channels.

Channels can literally change peoples’ lives. Since Zello’s launch in 2012, many channels have been used to accomplish things not normally possible without a major communications network or specialized equipment. Zello users have used channels to foster life-long friendships and facilitate positive changes in their communities. We want to showcase a few of these channels, in the hope that it inspires you to create your own channel and do some amazing things…

Here is just a sampling of the types of channels that can be found on Zello now, with examples of notable channels highlighted. Search for them at Zello Channels and check them out:

Social Radio: Entertainment and information channels to pass time and meet people
Ring of Fire
Nonstop Talk
The Survival Podcast Network
Scoopfm

Trucker channels
Uber and Lyft channels
Faith-based channels

Political Action/Social Causes: Open platforms for free and un-censored political discussion
Venezuela Hasta los Tuetanos
Venezuela..Libre

Jounalist channels

Public Safety and Information: Community watch groups, traffic and emergency information
Centurion Concerned Citizens
Witbank 911
Red Emergencias Biobio Chile
Radio Emergencia
DriveGp.

Airport parking channels
Storm trackers and severe weather
Search and rescue

Volunteer Causes: Bringing community together for good causes
CajunNavy
UK Star Bikers

Charity events

Gamers and Hobbyists: Channels for people with common hobbies and interests
Infinite Flight Pilots
Ingress anomaly events
Car club channels
Fishing tournaments
Paragliding
Cycling clubs

If you have a unique channel that is making a difference in people’s lives, we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a note at support@zello.com with a link to your channel.

The Cajun Navy: How Tech and Boaters Joined Forces to Save Lives

By Nancy on October 10, 2016

cajunnavypic

You might not have heard, but last August 2016, the biggest flood to hit Louisiana in 500 years happened. More than 30,000 people were evacuated and over 146,000 homes damaged. Unlike well-known Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it didn’t have a name, and the rescue and recovery efforts were better orchestrated. So it just wasn’t deemed as newsworthy.

Consequently, little was publicized about the rescue efforts of a small ragtag band of boaters known as the “Cajun Navy.” But their story deserves to be told. It’s a story about regular folks doing extraordinary things, using a little tech and a lot of determination.

The original Cajun Navy was born out of necessity during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Plagued by government red tape and delayed rescue efforts during Katrina, a small group of locals with boats got together and pitched in to do whatever they could. They became local heroes known as The Cajun Navy, as they picked up residents trapped by flood waters, put them on their boats, and transported them to safety.

The namesake group was called into action again this past August 12th, when flooding began in Livingston Parish – the hardest hit area. The amount of water rose so quickly, that it caught many residents off guard. Unable to prepare and evacuate in time, many found themselves stranded in their homes or on their rooftops.

Initial frantic calls for help came across on Facebook posts. AT&T cell towers were knocked out, making phone calls impossible. Many people in neighboring unaffected parishes saw these pleas and wanted to do something to help. They didn’t want to sit idle or wait for the government to come and rescue these people. It was at this point that a new, stronger, and more organized Cajun Navy really sprang into action.

Realizing there needed to be a central point of command to coordinate rescue efforts, stay-at-home mom and local Good Samaritan, Alaina Hebert, took it upon herself to head rescue efforts. A brand-new Facebook group for rescue efforts was created, asking for volunteers to join, especially those with boats and other equipment. The group eventually grew to over 23,000 members from all parts of the U.S. With a huge base of volunteers ready and able to help out, the Cajun Navy was now ready to take on the daunting task of coordinating water rescues.

As the flooding progressed, Parish Sheriff offices quickly became inundated with calls for help. With a backlog of over over 150 unanswered calls, Parish officials welcomed the offer of help from the Cajun Navy to handle some of the overflow. Cajun Navy volunteers immediately stepped in to help, going where needed with Sheriff Deputies onboard using their flotilla of fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks.

In the end, the Cajun Navy, with their band of 100-200 amateur and professional boaters, managed to save thousands of stranded residents and pets. The entire rescue effort was coordinated using two free apps: Zello as a live walkie-talkie dispatch and Glympse as a GPS locator. It was the first time apps had been used in this way – the technology did not exist during Hurricane Katrina.

Shawn Boudreaux, VP of the Cajun Navy and self-described “closet nerd” introduced the technology to the group. An avid player of Ingress (a location-based mobile app game), he used Zello to communicate with fellow team members during Ingress events. Shawn knew Zello could be a great tool for dispatchers to coordinate the hundreds of boats scattered throughout flooded areas. With the support of now Cajun Navy President, Alaina Hebert, he put the apps in motion by asking for volunteers on Facebook to come and install Zello and Glympse on their devices before going out on water rescues.

Shawn created a private Zello channel called “CajunNavy” for the volunteer dispatchers and boaters to communicate with each other. At the peak of the crisis, the channel had over 800 members or subscribers. All 800 could be online and active at the same time (the limit is 2000). As calls for help came in, they were transmitted live on the channel. By using Glympse and Google Maps for GPS coordinates, the closest boats could then be dispatched to help. The process resulted in more efficient and timely rescues.

A sister group named the “Cajun Army” also used Zello to coordinate post-flood efforts, providing food and shelter and dispatching volunteers to help clean-up damaged homes.

cajunarmypic

Though flood waters have since receded, the Cajun Navy and Cajun Army continues to help their neighbors rebuild their homes and lives. This is all done without monetary donations or government aid. If you would like to help out or just thank them, please join their Facebook groups and Zello channel by using the links below.

Cajun Navy Facebook Page
Cajun Army Facebook Page
Cajun Navy Zello Channel

If you have a similar story of how you used Zello to help your community, please contact us at info@zello.com. We’d love to hear about it!

Zello presents at Russian Transport Safety Forum

By Nancy on April 29, 2016

zellorussiantransport

Zello has a large following in Russia, especially within the transportation sector, which includes taxi and delivery services. Recently, Zello’s COO in Russia, Veronika Zaslavskaya, was invited to speak about transportation safety issues and how Zello could be used to avoid dangerous driver actions such as texting or handling devices while driving.

The panel also discussed the adoption of safety laws similar to the 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for commercial truck drivers which bans texting and phone handling while driving. As each violation can cost up to $2750 for the driver and $11,000 for the employer, trucking companies are eager to adopt technologies such as Zello for Work to ensure their drivers are compliant.

By using Zello with hands-free accessories or as part of an integrated in-cab solution, drivers can easily communicate with dispatchers and other drivers while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

The findings from the transport safety forum will be used to prepare recommendations for the Russian legislature, to be presented later this year.

Zello Works Where Traditional Radios Fail

By Nancy on April 22, 2016

Last week, we got a very nice note from a member of the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Cave and Technical Rescue Team (caverescue.net, sbsar.org). He explained how Zello was used in a recent search and rescue (SAR) mission. They were looking for possible human remains located in a mine shaft about 400 feet deep. When they lowered a person with a VHF radio down the shaft to investigate, the team on top realized they could not communicate with the person down in the shaft. The opening was too small relative to the wavelength of the radios, and their VHF radios were useless in that environment.

Since the team knew Zello worked with WiFi, and they had already established a WiFi hotspot on top, the team decided to try a little experiment. They decided to try Zello instead. They were surprised to find that it worked flawlessly! By lowering the person with a smartphone and Zello installed, he was able to maintain communication with the entire team.

“Amazingly we were able to maintain contact to about the 350 foot level. I was astonished! This is not an RF-friendly environment.”

We love hearing stories like this from our users. If you’ve had a similar experience where Zello saved the day when radios failed, drop us a line! Here are a couple pictures of that SAR mission:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Team at top of mine shaft

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Going down with Zello onboard

Zello Attends IWCE Convention in Las Vegas

By Nancy on April 8, 2016

zello-iwce-nayeli

We showcased Zello for Work at the International Wireless Communications Expo held March 21-25, 2016 in Las Vegas. The IWCE is the premier event for communications technology professionals. Over 7,000 individuals attend from a diverse group of government, public safety, utility, transportation and business enterprise markets. Our booth drew in many visitors, and it was a great success! For the first time, mobile apps were featured as a separate category at the IWCE, and Zello for Work was selected for the short video feature below:

Zello at the IWCE 2016

BigRoad: Another App making Truckers’ Lives Better While on the Road

By Nancy on September 10, 2015

bigroad

We have many truckers who use Zello instead of CB radios to talk to fellow truckers – it makes life on the road a little easier. To further help ease the stress of long-haul trucking, we’ve found a fantastic little app that is a perfect complement to Zello. It’s called BigRoad, and it is a mobile logging app available from Google Play and iTunes app stores. BigRoad offers a simple, affordable solution for truckers who want to create electronic driver logs easily at the touch of a screen, eliminating the need for paper logbooks..

Since its launch in 2012, BigRoad has became the most downloaded trucker app on Android, iPhone, and iPad devices. BigRoad, based in Canada, regularly works with their customers to develop features which truckers want and are simple to use. With its easy-to-use UI and cost effective solutions, BigRoad lessens the burden of creating accurate logbooks, passing vehicle inspections, and optimizing fleet operations. There are 3 levels of service available, depending on features needed: Free, Fleet, and Fleet with DashLink

The Free app provides a basic logging solution allowing truckers to create their logs, vehicle inspections reports (DVIR), send documents, share location, and view maps with real-time traffic information. Upgrading to the Fleet version provides additional features for instant messaging, route history, mileage reporting, hours of service (HOS) summary, and data is archived per DOT regulations.

For the ultimate in engine-connected logging, truckers can use BigRoad’s Fleet service with DashLink. DashLink is an accessory which uses Bluetooth to connect the app directly to the vehicle’s engine. DashLink senses when the vehicle is moving or stopped so that drive start and stop times are instantly recorded. This ensures an accurate record and history of duty status changes. Engine diagnostics are also available for maintenance purposes.

All BigRoad driver logs are automatically checked for errors and verified against current regulatory guidelines for both the US and Canada, ensuring that no violations occur which can result in penalty fees. At any time, the driver can produce a driver log which is error free and ready for a DOT inspection. With DashLink installed, truckers will be ready for the upcoming Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate which is currently underway.

Safety is another big benefit of using BigRoad. By mounting the device on the dashboard, drivers can easily view their log history and total drive hours without having to fumble with paper logbooks. Additionally, the app stores up to 14 days of logs for inspection purposes, and a full history is also available for audit purposes.

Finally, BigRoad can save you big bucks. According to the BigRoad website, a 10-truck fleet can save over $30,000 per year by:
– reducing HOS log audits and fines
– eliminating expensive roadside faxing
– offering real-time fleet tracking
– allowing faster, compliant vehicle inspections
– offering truck route planning
– eliminating GPS hardware
– preventing form and manner errors.

So, give BigRoad a try and see how it can help make your trucking life easier… and tell all your Zello buddies too! For more information, go to www.bigroad.com

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