Amazon is sharing some of your internet bandwidth with others, here is why

Tech News

[FILE] Starting today, Amazon is enabling its new Amazon Sidewalk service to automatically connect Echo and Ring devices to a shared network, allowing those devices — and others — to “work better at home and beyond the front door.” (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – Some of your Amazon devices are contributing internet bandwidth to a new shared network as of Tuesday, but what does that mean? 

If you have an Amazon Echo or Ring device, this is for you.  

This week Amazon launched a previously dormant feature called Sidewalk that enables some devices to share a small portion of internet bandwidth with neighboring devices.  

This means that your neighbor’s device can be working off your internet connection and vice versa.  

Brooks Seahorn, an Amazon Web Service instructor with INE, says the technology could be helpful in keeping our devices working in scenarios out of our control.  

“If you were to lose your connectivity, say your router were to go down, these devices would potentially continue to work successfully, by using the Sidewalk,” said Seahorn.  

Furthermore, devices, like Ring security cameras or Ring Floodlight Cameras, that are too far from your WIFI regular connection may also be able to stay connected through Sidewalk.  

In addition to servicing devices that may be out of range for your WIFI, Sidewalk could also help track a lost pet that wanders by Sidewalk-enabled devices. 

The amount of bandwidth Sidewalk would use per month is capped at 500MB; about the same as streaming a ten-minute video.  

While the amount of bandwidth being shared is almost negligible in comparison to the amount many people stream daily, privacy concerns are always top of mind in this digital age.  

Though you will not be able to connect to the network with a device that requires a high bandwidth, like a cellphone, some are raising an eyebrow at having strangers tethered to their personal wireless network.  

“A lot of security experts are taking a wait-and-see approach to Sidewalk,” said Seahorn. “What they’re saying is that until we get at least a third-party security team to look at this sort of device, let’s take a little bit of a stop and look at it before we dive in.” 

More details on Sidewalk’s encryption can be found here.

Sidewalk up and running, however, there is a way to opt-out if you decide you do not want your devices contributing to the network.  

If you have a Ring device, you can go into the settings control center on the app and disable it from there as opposed to going to the Alexa app like you would for other devices.  

There is no additional charge for Sidewalk, as it is piggybacking off the internet connection you already pay for.  

A full list of Sidewalk Bridge devices can be found here.

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