Is Amazon Sidewalk the New Wireless Standard?

Dec 3, 2019Blog

Amazon recently announced one of its newest ventures: Amazon Sidewalk. This is Amazon’s attempt at competing with Wi-Fi. Actually, the goal is to replace Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 5G altogether. Amazon wants to replace the wireless connection standard that we are all familiar with by developing its own mid-range wireless communication standard. Here’s what there is to know about Sidewalk:

What is Amazon Sidewalk?

Amazon Sidewalk is Amazon’s new wireless communication standard for Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home devices. As consumers buy more and more connected devices, Amazon sees a need for better control over the massive amounts of these devices.

With Sidewalk, Amazon wants to displace Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 5G as a network technology. Since Sidewalk can offer better range and uses little power, it seems to be the answer to current issues with wireless connections. Sidewalk offers a longer range than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It also requires less power than 5G eats up. Because of this, Sidewalk could be ubiquitous inside and outside of the home in the future much like Wi-Fi has been for the past 20 years.

Sidewalk is different than these other wireless standards because it goes beyond the home. Amazon Sidewalk brings the smart home outdoors. Basically, it has the potential to offer the best of both worlds.

How Does it Work?

Sidewalk relies on a low bandwidth 900 MHz spectrum. It can offer a range of up to a half mile while using little power. There are many examples out there on how we may see Sidewalk implemented in our lives in the future. One way is by getting alerts for things like mail and package delivery. For example, if you live in an apartment building you can get an alert when it has been delivered instead of going to check periodically.

Another way is having better connection when you bring your speakers outside to play music at a backyard party. No more static or lost signal.

Amazon has also shared that it will release a Sidewalk-enabled device, called Fetch, in 2020. Fetch will be part of Amazon’s Ring Smart Security product line and will be a wearable device that you attach to your dog’s collar. Fetch allows you to use the Ring app to track where your dog is and get alerts when if your dog goes beyond a certain geofenced perimeter.

Will Amazon Sidewalk be Secure?

At such a low bandwidth, there is risk of interception, since the 900 MHz spectrum is the same one used for things like amateur radios and walkie-talkies. This is because 900 MHz offers significant range, penetrates buildings and uses little battery.

So, while there are many benefits to using Amazon Sidewalk, interception is a risk Amazon might have to work on so that consumers can keep their privacy.

Can I Use Amazon Sidewalk Now?

Not yet. But, if Fetch (the Sidewalk-enabled dog tracker) being released in 2020 is any indication, it seems like it’s not far off from consumer use. And, with the rise of IoT devices in the home, Sidewalk could be a beneficial addition to the smart home ecosystem.

Want to learn more? Stay in-the-know on the impacts of Wi-Fi technologies and other developing technologies by following the Actiontec blog. You can also learn more about the history and evolution of Wi-Fi networking on Actiontec’s Complete Guide to WiFi Networking

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