If you haven’t already heard, Amazon has switched on something new called Sidewalk, a low-bandwidth “mesh-type” network that, according to Amazon, will keep many of their Amazon devices connected even when they lose their internet connection to your router. Many Echo and Ring products are automatically being used as bridges to extend the current range of the network. Amazon says Sidewalk is secure and is protected with multiple layers of encryption, but with the number of security breaches that we are consistently seeing, many Amazon users are concerned for personal security and privacy.
If you don’t want to participate in Sidewalk you can disable the feature. To do so for Echo devices, access your account settings through the Alexa app, then select Disable under the Amazon Sidewalk menu. For Ring products, go to the control center in the Ring app, then the Amazon Sidewalk options. From there, tap Disable, then Confirm.
People who buy a compatible Echo device can opt-out of Sidewalk while performing the initial setup. You’ll still be able to turn on Sidewalk later if you change your mind.
The following devices are eligible to be used as Sidewalk bridges:
- 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
Sidewalk basically allocates a small portion of your internet bandwidth (80Kbps per bridge and up to 500MB of monthly data in total) to share with your neighbors. Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to expand the coverage area.
The idea is to keep Echo speakers, Ring cameras, outdoor lights, motion sensors, and other low-power devices connected even if they’re beyond your regular WiFi range.