Amazon Sidewalk Launches June 8

For anyone that uses an Amazon device like Echo, you will be automatically enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk which is set to launch June 8th.

The devices that will support Sidewalk from USA Today article:

  • Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
  • Echo (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Plus (all generations)
  • Echo Show (all models and generations)
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Studio
  • Echo Input
  • Echo Flex

What is Amazon Sidewalk? From Amazon’s website (link embedded in USA Today article)

Amazon Sidewalk creates a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices including select Echo and Ring devices. These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger.

To opt out, this article gives explicit directions: Amazon devices will soon automatically share your Internet with neighbors | Ars Technica

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Open More and selecting Settings
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk
  5. Turn Amazon Sidewalk Off

Found this info to switch it off if you have the app Ring:

  1. Open the Ring app
  2. Go to Control Center by tapping the three-lined icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen
  3. Select Sidewalk and use the toggle icon to opt out
  4. It will ask you to confirm you opt-out. Users can opt back in the same way.

I’ve read mixed articles that you’re only given a 10-day window to opt out (well, make that 6 since the Ars Technica article was written 5/29). Not sure if that’s true or not. I’ll leave you to do more research on whether or not you want to opt out, just have to search Amazon Sidewalk and a ton of articles pop up on Google and Bing.

Thanks, I went ahead and disabled it. I have a data cap on my internet, and none of these “sidewalk” devices (besides a few echo dots). I don’t need to be providing internet for my neighbors!

Also from Amazon’s website:

How will Amazon Sidewalk impact my personal wireless bandwidth and data usage?
The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video. Today, when you share your Bridge’s connection with Sidewalk, total monthly data used by Sidewalk, per account, is capped at 500MB, which is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.

So it’s not like giving free access for passersby to watch Netflix over your wifi.

If you have data caps, it’s definitely something to be aware of, though.

[strike]
Explain this to me like I’m an eight year old
[/strike]

Explain this to me like I’m an eighty year old.

What exactly does this program do? What are the alleged benefits? Why do my neighbors need a portion of my bandwidth? Are my neighbors (and random passers-by) actually using my bandwidth or is it just that Sidewalk chews up a little while it’s doing it’s thing?

The FAQ may answer your questions better than I can.

Amazon.com: Amazon Sidewalk: Amazon Devices & Accessories

It’s not a replacement for home wifi.

Is Amazon Sidewalk a replacement for a home wifi network?
No. Sidewalk Bridges require wifi access for normal operation. When Sidewalk is on, your Bridge can share a low-bandwidth connection with Sidewalk-enabled devices, like sensors and smart lights that are installed in locations around and outside your home where wifi may not be available. Amazon Sidewalk does not support high-bandwidth connections like a wifi or cellular network would, so you would still use those connections for streaming movies, posting on social media or sending email.

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It effectively extends your wifi range for those low bandwidth devices, so a device in your garage or outside your house where wifi is spotty may work better.

It extends the range of device finder things, like for Tile or wifi only tablets.

They claim something about simplifying device setup, but I’m not clear on that.

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I have a lot of smart gadgets in my house. One of the headaches of adding such a gadget is getting it connected to the rest of the gadgetry / the outside world, especially since I keep such gadgets on a separate VLAN than my trusted devices (i.e., I have to reconfigure my phone to be on the untrusted VLAN, before doing whatever wizardry is required to complete the proprietary incantation to bring the new gadget online).

I read that comment as being “if your third party gadget speaks ‘Sidewalk’, it will be able to auto-negotiate the necessary connections with minimum fuss on your part”…and that Echo devices potentially become smart device hubs.

That part of Sidewalk sounds cool. I’m just concerned about the potential security risks of such improvements, as well as the potential of other peoples’ smart gadgets piggy backing on your network, and vice-versa…especially if your ISP imposes charges for going over certain usage limits, or if your internet connection is already saturated.