What is Amazon Sidewalk?

On June 8th, 2021 a series of Amazon devices will become a nationwide network called Sidewalk. It is a low band network where each device contributes a portion of its bandwidth to share with the community. All devices would share this bandwidth and utilize it. The more devices on this network the stronger it becomes. Each of these Sidewalk networks would have about a half a mile radius.

Amazon’s description in the Alexa app states:

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. Sidewalk can help your compatible devices automatically connect or reconnect to your router. It can also extend the coverage for Sidewalk-enabled devices such as Ring Smart Lights and pet and object trackers, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances. Sidewalk uses a small portion of your internet bandwidth to provide these services to you and your neighbors.”

So what does this mean? Simply put if you lose your internet connection in your home, your devices would still be connected to the internet by using your neighbor’s connections. Amazon also states that Sidewalk will even extend the internet range of all your device. So if you have a speaker in the backyard and it is too far away to reach your home internet signal, it would use the signal from Sidewalk to continue working properly.

So what’s the big deal?

The issue is that Amazon turns on Sidewalk by default instead of the user opting in to the service.

What about your privacy?

Amazon has stated that:

“The Sidewalk network uses three layers of encryption to keep data shared over the network safe, and the same strong encryption standards are required for all applications and devices that use the network.”

This may sound like the system is completely secure but there is no guarantee that the system is unhackable. Amazon has even written a white paper on how they secure your data which can be found here https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/sidewalk/final_privacy_security_whitepaper.pdf .

If you decide that you do not want your devices to be part of this new service you need to opt-out of it because the system is set to turn on by default.

How do I opt-out of Sidewalk?

Yes, you can opt-out of this program. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone
  2. Go to Settings, then to Account Settings.
  3. Go to Amazon Sidewalk and toggle ‘Disable’

Which devices use the Amazon sidewalk?

As of June 2021, the following devices can act as Amazon Sidewalk bridges:

  • 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 (2nd gen)
  • Echo Show 5, 8, 10 (all generations)
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Studio
  • Echo Input
  • Echo Flex

The list will probably grow over time so check the description when you buy an Amazon device to see if it connects to Amazon Sidewalk.