Amazon Echo et al: Will it increase the number of WiFis to be found?

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Within the last few weeks, I have been reading of a not-particular-well publicized policy to use Amazon Echo devices (and others) to provide WiFis to the public. It will be on an opt-out basis. Do we Wiglers have to do anything to find these devices? Moreover, can our Wigle scanners now actually USE these devices to obtain map data, and upload results, while we wardrive? How would we set the WiFi settings on our phones to accomplish that? ... 603143002/

The new Amazon Sidewalk program goes into effect Tuesday, and the tech giant is automatically enrolling owners of some of its devices in the program that shares their internet connection with neighbors.

Amazon, which originally announced the networking project in September 2019, told USA TODAY that Sidewalk would launch June 8 on eligible Echo devices, including select Ring cameras.

Amazon Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth shared network the tech giant says will not only allow your devices to work better, but also help locate lost items.

The network shares "a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors," reads a description on Amazon's website. "And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger," it claims.

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Amazon doesn't charge anything for Sidewalk, and the company says "multiple layers of encryption" provide privacy and security for your personal data. But Amazon has gotten some flak for automatically opting users in.

How to turn off Amazon Sidewalk on Ring, Echo
Amazon says its Sidewalk feature has multiple layers of privacy and security to protect personal information, but users will have the option to turn off Sidewalk if they decide not to participate.

Ring owners with an eligible device can opt out by visiting the control center in the Ring app or Ring website. Customers who own an eligible Echo device can make changes in Settings in the Alexa app.

Amazon says customers who purchase an eligible Echo device for the first time will have the chance to disable Sidewalk during the setup process.

Shelly Palmer, CEO at The Palmer Group, a tech strategy advisory group, said he plans to opt out in part because of the automatic opt-in and "I don’t like the idea of being a node on an Amazon peer-to-peer network and enriching the richest man in the world with my bandwidth, my data and my money."

Amazon Sidewalk will also be supported by Tile. Bluetooth tracker owners can use to keep tabs on their keys, wallet or other important items.

Does my Amazon device have Sidewalk?
Here is the list of devices Amazon says support Sidewalk:

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 (all models and generations)
Echo Spot
Echo Studio
Echo Input
Echo Flex
Contributing: Mike Snider and Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23. ... 1328123011

Frequently asked questions
What is Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. Operated by Amazon at no charge to customers, Sidewalk can help simplify new device setup, extend the low-bandwidth working range of devices to help find pets or valuables with Tile trackers, and help devices stay online even if they are outside the range of their home wifi. In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.

Why should I participate in Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk helps your devices get connected and stay connected. For example, if your Echo device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router. For select Ring devices, you can continue to receive motion alerts from your Ring Security Cams and customer support can still troubleshoot problems even if your devices lose their wifi connection. Sidewalk can also extend the working range for your Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances. Amazon does not charge any fees to join Sidewalk.

What are Sidewalk Bridges, and which devices are able to become Sidewalk Bridges?
Sidewalk Bridges are devices that provide connections to Amazon Sidewalk. Today, Sidewalk Bridges include many Echo devices and select Ring Floodlight and Spotlight Cams. A comprehensive list of Sidewalk devices includes: 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.

Where can I change my Amazon Sidewalk preferences?
Ring customers who own an eligible device can choose to update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from the Control Center in the Ring app or Ring website. Echo customers who own an eligible device can update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from Account Settings in the Alexa app. If you have linked your Ring and Amazon accounts, your Sidewalk preferences on either your Alexa or Ring app will apply to all of your eligible Echo and Ring devices.

How will Amazon Sidewalk impact my personal wireless bandwidth and data usage?
The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video. Today, when you share your Bridge’s connection with Sidewalk, total monthly data used by Sidewalk, per account, is capped at 500MB, which is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.

If I disable Amazon Sidewalk, will my Sidewalk Bridges still work?
Yes. All of your Sidewalk Bridges will continue to have their original functionality even if you decide to disable Amazon Sidewalk. However, disabling means missing out on Sidewalk’s connectivity and location related benefits. You also will no longer contribute your internet bandwidth to support community extended coverage benefits such as locating pets and valuables with Sidewalk-enabled devices.

What happens if there are not a lot of Bridges in my neighborhood?
Amazon Sidewalk coverage may vary by location based on the number of participating Bridges in a location. The more Sidewalk Bridge customers who participate, the better the network becomes.

How does Amazon Sidewalk protect customer information?
Preserving customer privacy and security is foundational to how we’ve built Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security to secure data traveling on the network and to keep customers safe and in control. For example, Sidewalk Bridge owners do not receive any information about devices owned by others connected to Sidewalk. Learn more here.

How does Amazon Sidewalk work?
Customers with a Sidewalk Bridge (today, many Echo devices, Ring Floodlight Cams and Ring Spotlight Cams) can contribute a small portion of their internet bandwidth, which is pooled together to create a shared network that benefits all Sidewalk-enabled devices in a community. Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to extend coverage and provide these benefits.

Will I know what other Sidewalk-enabled devices are connected to my Bridge?
Preserving customer privacy and security is foundational to how we’ve built Amazon Sidewalk. Information transferred over Sidewalk Bridges is encrypted and Bridge customers are not able to see that Sidewalk-enabled devices are connected to their Bridge. Customers who own Sidewalk-enabled devices will know they are connected to Sidewalk but will not be able to identify which Bridge they are connected to. For more information, visit our whitepaper here.

What does it mean to share the location of my Sidewalk Bridge?
You'll have the option to help your neighbors by sharing your Bridge’s approximate location to provide benefits like helping them locate their pet. Neighbors with Sidewalk-enabled devices won’t be able to see the exact street address of your Sidewalk Bridge. They will only see an approximate location, like the image below. This setting will apply to all of your Sidewalk Bridges.

What is a Sidewalk-enabled device?
Sidewalk-enabled devices are devices that connect to Sidewalk Bridges to access Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk-enabled devices will support a range of experiences from helping find pets or valuables, to smart security and lighting, to diagnostics for appliances and tools. We are working with device manufacturers on new low-bandwidth devices that can run on or benefit from Sidewalk, with no recurring fees to access Sidewalk. Sidewalk-enabled devices include Sidewalk Bridges because they can benefit from connecting to other Sidewalk Bridges too.

What types of devices can connect to Amazon Sidewalk?
Only devices authorized by Amazon to use Sidewalk’s low-bandwidth connections are allowed to connect to Amazon Sidewalk.

Is Amazon Sidewalk a replacement for a home wifi network?
No. Sidewalk Bridges require wifi access for normal operation. When Sidewalk is on, your Bridge can share a low-bandwidth connection with Sidewalk-enabled devices, like sensors and smart lights that are installed in locations around and outside your home where wifi may not be available. Amazon Sidewalk does not support high-bandwidth connections like a wifi or cellular network would, so you would still use those connections for streaming movies, posting on social media or sending email.

What does Amazon charge for use of the network?
Amazon does not charge any fees to join Amazon Sidewalk, which uses a small portion of bandwidth from a Sidewalk Bridge’s existing internet service. Standard data rates from internet providers may apply.

What is Sidewalk Developer Service (SDS)?
SDS is a collection of approved silicon chipsets along with purchasable development boards, device software development kits (SDKs), device provisioning tools, technical documentation, and a cloud integration (see Amazon Sidewalk Integration for AWS IoT). Collectively, these tools help device manufacturers develop, and easily launch, devices that are Sidewalk-enabled.

How do manufacturers start using SDS, to begin building Sidewalk-enabled devices?
To get started building a proof-of-concept Sidewalk-enabled device, first review the Quick Start Guide on the SDS Console, then review technical documentation, decide which approved development board and Sidewalk Bridge to purchase, and then download an SDK.

Are you a device manufacturer, ready to get started, but have more questions?
Contact our technical team here to request more information.

Where is Amazon Sidewalk available?
Sidewalk is currently only available in the US.
I think this is the key:
>Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to extend coverage and provide these benefits.

Sidewalk is not WiFi, so it seems unlikely that a device looking for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac traffic will "see" a Sidewalk-enabled device.

I imagine there will be folks with software-defined-radio rigs that very quickly start capturing Sidewalk traffic, and who knows, maybe someone will build a website that puts #dotsOnMaps.

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