Each year, homes become smarter as we load up our humble abodes with more and more connected devices. In my house alone, I have a security camera, robovac, several smart plugs, smart lights, and more.
Keeping all of these devices connected to the network is essential for them to operate, but you can’t always count on your Wi-Fi signal to reach every corner of your home. Nor can you rely on your Internet connection to stay up 100% of the time.
Additionally, sometimes you have connected devices that leave your home but still require a connection, such as Tile trackers. So, what do we do about this? Amazon thinks it has the answer with its Amazon Sidewalk.
What is Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network meant to simplify new device setup, extend the working range of connected devices, prevent your smart devices from losing connection, and aids in the finding of pets or valuables with connected tracking devices–such as Tile trackers or Fetch.
Sidewalk accomplishes this by using a combination of Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum, and other frequencies to create a shared mesh network for supported devices. To function, the network requires Sidewalk Bridges–which includes many popular Ring and Echo devices–to create the network, and for customers to opt-in to sharing their Wi-Fi connection with the Sidewalk network.
In theory, if you and all your neighbors use supported Echo and Ring devices–and you all opt-in to share your Wi-Fi connection–you could create an Amazon Sidewalk network in your community.
The benefits of this would allow for your Ring Floodlight Cam to continue to send alerts even if your Wi-Fi connection becomes interrupted. It would also extend the range of Tile trackers or pet locators allowing you to find valuables or pets outside of your local network. And the benefits will increase as the network and number of devices supported grows.
However, this requires you to share your Wi-Fi connection to help Sidewalk communicate over the internet. Amazon ensures customers that Sidewalk is safe to use and that it is “designed with multiple layers of privacy and security to secure data traveling on the network and to keep customers safe and in control.”
If you’re concerned about how much bandwidth this is going to use up on your network, then there’s not much to worry about. The maximum bandwidth that Amazon Sidewalk uses is 80Kbps, which is far less than what is used to stream a video in high definition. Additionally, there is a data cap of 500MB per Sidewalk account each month. Meaning, it’ll hardly put a dent in your data cap, if you have one.
Despite Amazon’s reassurances, we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to opt-out of the voluntary Sidewalk network. We’ll show you how to do that below.
How to opt-out of Amazon Sidewalk
So, you’ve read all about Amazon’s Sidewalk network and as altruistic as it might sound, you’re still not comfortable sharing your network. That’s totally cool, Amazon would prefer you leave it enabled, but you don’t have to, and here’s how you can opt-out.
First, here’s a list of devices that currently act as a Sidewalk Bridge. If you don’t own one of these then you won’t need to worry about opting out.
- 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
If you do own one of these devices and want to opt-out, then follow these instructions for Echo and Ring devices.
1. Open the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device.
2. Tap on the “More” icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the app.
3. Navigate to Settings, Account Settings, Amazon Sidewalk
4. Toggle off Amazon Sidewalk and Community Finding (which is used to help make tracking devices more accurate).
1. Open the Ring app on your mobile device.
2. Tap on the three-line menu in the upper left-hand corner
3. Open Control Center
4. Select Sidewalk and toggle off the slider for Amazon Sidewalk
If at any time you change your mind and want to opt back in then you can follow the same steps to locate the slider and re-enable Amazon Sidewalk.