Amazon is getting ready to switch on a new service called Amazon Sidewalk, and if you own an Echo device, or a Ring Floodlight and Spotlight Cam, then the chances are that you are going to start donating part of your internet connection to making this work.
The idea behind Amazon Sidewalk is that without a reliable internet connection, having a device like a webcam doorbell or security doorbell is somewhat pointless. So, to combat this poor connectivity, Amazon is planning to turn select Echo and Ring devices into Sidewalk Bridges and use your internet connection to help others.
Starting June 8 (US only for now), Amazon will be turning your devices into Sidewalk Bridges unless you opt-out.
Here's how Amazon describes it:
"Amazon Sidewalk helps your devices get connected and stay connected. For example, if your Echo device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router. For select Ring devices, you can continue to receive motion alerts from your Ring Security Cams and customer support can still troubleshoot problems even if your devices lose their wifi connection. Sidewalk can also extend the working range for your Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances. Amazon does not charge any fees to join Sidewalk."
Later this month, Tile tags will be able to connect to Amazon sidewalk, extending their capability and making them more competitive in the face of Apple's AirTag.
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How much of your bandwidth will Sidewalk use up? According to Amazon, it is restricted to 80Kbps, or as Amazon puts it, about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video, and the total monthly usage is capped at 500MB, which, as Amazon puts it, is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.
But is it secure?
Amazon says yes, and has published a privacy and security whitepaper outlining how it has accomplished this. This document concludes with why users should have this feature enabled:
"By sharing a small portion of their home network bandwidth, neighbors give a little—but get a lot in return."
But does trust needs to be earned?
Want to say no to Amazon Sidewalk? Here's how:
- Fire up your Alexa app
- Tap More and then Settings
- Tap Account Settings
- Tap Amazon Sidewalk
- Now you can turn Amazon Sidewalk on or off
What do you think about Amazon Sidewalk? Let me know in the comments below.