Welcome to Product Support, a column devoted to helping you get the most out of the stuff you already use.
Amazon is gearing up to launch Sidewalk, its new mesh network that uses people's existing Wi-Fi networks to extend the range of its low-bandwidth devices (meaning every Echo and Ring smart device). It sounds great in theory because it's designed to help smart devices stay better connected, but the problem is that it involves nearby homes sharing their Wi-Fi with each other, which brings about a lot of concerns about privacy.
Amazon claims that Sidewalk's mesh network is very encrypted and doesn’t use Wi-Fi to transmit data; instead, it uses Bluetooth (BLE) to extend the range of compatible smart devices. (You can read their statement on privacy and security, here.) But if that doesn't ease your concerns, you could always just turn it off before it even kicks on.
Amazon is going to roll out Sidewalk on June 8 and when it does, it will be able to access the Wi-Fi of any home that has an Echo smart speaker or Ring smart security system. And that's a lot of homes.
If you don't like the idea of Amazon sharing your Wi-Fi with your neighbors, and vice versa, don't worry. You can prevent this from happening by just adjusting a setting in your Alexa app. It takes less than a minute. Here's how.
- Open the Alexa app.
- Select the More tab (bottom-right corner).
- Select 'Settings.'
- Select 'Account Settings.'
- Select 'Amazon Sidewalk.'
- Turn the 'Enabled' slider off.