Starting June 8, Amazon will automatically enable a feature on its family of hardware devices, including Echo speakers, Ring Video Doorbells, Ring Floodlight Cams, and Ring Spotlight Cams, that will share a small part of your Internet bandwidth with nearby neighbors — unless you choose to opt-out.
To that effect, the company intends to register all compatible devices that are operational in the U.S. into an ambitious location-tracking system called Sidewalk as it prepares to roll out the shared mesh network in the country.
Originally announced in September 2019, Sidewalk is part of Amazon’s efforts to build a long-range wireless network that leverages a combination of Bluetooth and 900 MHz spectrum (FSK) to help Echo, Ring, Tile trackers, and other Sidewalk-enabled devices communicate over the internet without Wi-Fi.
Sidewalk is designed to extend the working range of low-bandwidth devices, and help devices stay connected even if they are outside the range of a user’s home Wi-Fi network. It achieves this by pooling together a small sliver of internet bandwidth from the participating devices to create what’s a shared network.
The mechanism that undergirds Sidewalk is conceptually analogous to how Apple leverages its huge installed base of Apple devices to help locate lost devices using its Find My network. But Sidewalk also extends beyond location tracking for virtually any kind of short-range two-way communication. Besides utilizing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Sidewalk also makes use of long-range wireless technology known as LoRa to help devices stay connected and continue to work over longer distances.
images from Hacker News