Amazon emailed Echo customers across the US this week to say its new Sidewalk wireless network will be coming to their devices later in 2020. The company has also outlined how you can opt out of the service, if you choose.
Sidewalk is a shared network that Amazon claims will help devices work better together. One of the benefits is how Sidewalk-compatible devices can help you more easily reconnect them to your Wi-Fi network should they lose connection.
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It can also help connect new products, like Amazon Echo smart speakers, to your home network for the first time.
A free service, Sidewalk also works like a mesh network, helping to extend the reach of your home network's wireless signal to Sidewalk devices, like Ring security lights fitted outside your property, and to non-Amazon devices like smart lights and pet- and object-trackers.
Amazon says Sidewalk uses "a small portion of your internet bandwidth to provide these services to you and your neighbors" – the latter made possible because Sidewalk is a shared network. For example, your Ring video doorbell's wireless signal could help keep your neighbors security lights connected to the internet, anonymously.
The retail giant says Sidewalk is coming to Echo devices in the US later in 2020, but the feature can be disabled now if you don't want to use it.
How to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk using the Alexa appGearBrain
Opting out of Amazon Sidewalk
To disable and opt out of Amazon Sidewalk, open the Alexa smartphone app and follow these instructions:
- Tap on the More icon in the lower-right corner
- Tap on Settings, then Account Settings
- Now tap on the newly-added Amazon Sidewalk option
- Finally, tap the toggle switch to the left to disable Sidewalk on all compatible devices
Although Amazon's end goal for Sidewalk isn't entirely clear for now, it appears the company is laying the foundations for a dedicated smart home wireless network, separate to the likes of Zigbee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi.
In a white paper detailing how it works, and how it is encrypted, Amazon describes Sidewalk as "a shared network designed to help customer devices work better, both at home and beyond the front door...Sidewalk helps simplify new device setup, extends the working range of low-bandwidth devices, and helps devices stay online, even if they are outside the range of the user's home Wi-Fi."