Just before the long weekend at the end of May, Amazon announced the release of their Sidewalk mesh network . There are many misconceptions about what it is and what it does, so this article will untangle some of the confusion.
Much of the press about Amazon Sidewalk has said that it will force you to share your internet or WiFi network. It won’t. It’s a network to connect home automation devices like smart light switches together in more flexible ways. Amazon is opening the network up to partners, the first of which is the Tile tracker.
Sidewalk can use the internet for some features, but won’t in general. If it does, Amazon is limiting its rate to 80 kilobits per second -- or 8 kilobytes per second, which is only about 50% more than the modems we used in the old days. It is also capped at 500 MB per month, which is less than two hours of 80 kbps over the whole month. To be clear: it isn’t going to interfere with your streaming, video calls, or anything else. The average web page is over two megabytes in size, which would take over four minutes to download at that speed.
Sidewalk is primarily a mesh network for home automation devices, like Alexa’s smart device features, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. This mesh network can provide coverage where your home network is flaky. To build the ecosystem, people incorporate their devices into this mesh network.