Over the weekend, a friend shared an article discussing the new Amazon Sidewalk service that will be debuting as an experiment on June 8th. If you live in the U.S. and use Alexa, Echo, or any other Amazon device (this includes Ring doorbells, security cams, outdoor lights, motion sensors, etc.) you will be automatically enrolled in this service unless you manually opt out.
This new wireless mesh service will share a small bit of your Internet bandwidth with nearby neighbors who don't have connectivity and will help you to their bandwidth when you don't, too. Amazon's website claims that Amazon Sidewalk can help your devices "work better at home and beyond the front door. When enabled, Sidewalk can unlock unique benefits for your device, support other Sidewalk devices in your community, and even locate pets or lost items."
The goal of Sidewalk is to help devices work better by simplifying new device setups, extending the low-bandwidth working range of devices to better locate things with Tile trackers, and help devices stay online even if they are outside of the range of the home wi-fi. Amazon says users should participate in the experiment because it helps your devices get connected and stay connected, and there are no fees charged for this service.
The first thing I thought when I saw this (other than my security concerns) was, "how much is this going to affect my personal wireless bandwidth?" According to Amazon, "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."
Amazon has published a white paper detailing Sidewalk and all of its benefits. Users have been assured that data is encrypted and privacy is protected, but I'm personally not so sure that I want to participate in this experiment. You can opt-out your devices using their associated apps, and I think that I will be doing that myself. If you're also looking to opt out of this service, here are some instructions on how to do so:
Where can I change my Amazon Sidewalk preferences?
Ring customers who own an eligible device can choose to update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from the Control Center in the Ring app or Ring website. Echo customers who own an eligible device can update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from Settings in the Alexa app. If you have linked your Ring and Amazon accounts, your Sidewalk preferences on either your Alexa or Ring app will apply to all of your eligible Echo and Ring devices.
Amazon also provided a white paper detailing all of the service's security measures which you can read here.
What do you think - are you absolutely opting out of this service, or does it sound appealing to you? I would love to hear your thoughts in order to better inform my own decision on this.