Amazon connecting up devices in US homes into one giant wi-fi network

Amazon is starting a new service that connects up all its smart speakers and devices into one giant network in order to extend their range of operation. — Photo: Britta Pedersen/dpa

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon is connecting its devices in US households into an almost nationwide wireless network. The project, called Sidewalk, was announced several years ago, but the tech giant announced in late March that it is opening the network to external developers.

The Sidewalk network is created by connecting smart devices like Amazon's Echo speakers and Ring brand security cameras connect to each other, but only if the device owners agree.

Thanks to the wide usage of Amazon devices in US households, more than 90% of the population in that country can be reached, the company says.

A single camera on a garage, for example, can extend the wi-fi network by a kilometre, Amazon's chief technology officer Dave Limp told the financial service Bloomberg. The range of signal with a loudspeaker, on the other hand, sometimes ends already after just a few hundred metres.

The company also has intermediate stations that fill in the gaps, and has created an online map showing its coverage across the US.

The vast majority of owners of suitable Amazon technology in the USA have made their devices part of the "Sidewalk" network, Limp told Bloomberg. By doing so, they are also agreeing to provide some of the bandwidth in their internet connection for it.

At the 2019 announcement, Amazon had pitched a networked collar as one idea that could quickly find a lost dog with the help of the neighbourhood's network of connected devices. The device has not yet come to market.

Now there is talk of a parcel tracker or sensors to detect water damage, for example. Amazon is giving interested hardware developers free test devices so that they can get an idea of the network coverage. – dpa

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IoT , Internet of Things


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