Amazon will soon launch a new feature called Amazon Sidewalk, and on the surface it sounds like it could be helpful. For most owners of Ring doorbells and Echo devices, Sidewalk
has been automatically enabled, and is designed to give a major boost to the range of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices – perhaps a security camera that is set up outside of the range of your router.
How does this work? Sidewalk uses a “small portion” of your internet bandwidth to pass low-energy Bluetooth connections and 900 MHz radio signals across all your Amazon connected devices. Amazon’s goal is to combine this “small portion” of your bandwidth with the “small portions” of your neighbors’ bandwidth to create a bigger, and stronger network and to keep your devices connected without interruption. Amazon advises the monthly bandwidth cap that it will be borrowing is 500MB per account, which is the equivalent of streaming 10 minutes of HD video.
Overall, the amount of bandwidth Amazon is “borrowing” each month isn’t all that much, and the boost to keep your devices connected all sounds like a plus, right? If you’re concerned about security, Amazon advises there is a 3-layer encryption set up so neighbors cannot see your data. While that sounds good, many smart devices aren’t the greatest at cybersecurity, and you’re connected to an overall network you can’t control as well.
If you’re undecided about sharing your bandwidth with your neighbors, here’s how you can opt out:
- Open the Alexa app.
- Open More and select Settings.
- Select Account Settings.
- Select Amazon Sidewalk.
- Turn Amazon Sidewalk On or Off for your account.
You can also learn more directly from Amazon by searching Sidewalk on their website.