Amazon Sidewalk to begin sharing internet from your devices starting Tuesday: Here’s how to turn it off

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Starting today, Amazon is enabling its new Amazon Sidewalk service to automatically connect Echo and Ring devices to a shared network, allowing those devices — and others — to “work better at home and beyond the front door.” (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – If you’re not a fan of Amazon Sidewalk, you can still kick it to the curb.

Starting Tuesday, Amazon is enabling its new Amazon Sidewalk service to automatically connect Echo and Ring devices to a shared network, allowing those devices — and others — to “work better at home and beyond the front door.” According to Amazon, this shared network is achieved by utilizing a small portion of each device’s internet bandwidth, which is then pooled together to provide Amazon Sidewalk’s services to “you and your neighbors.”

In other words, Amazon is essentially sharing a tiny bit of its customers’ internet bandwidth (via their Amazon Sidewalk “Bridge” devices) for the purposes of creating a larger, yet low-bandwidth, shared network.

According to Amazon, the perks of Amazon Sidewalk will more than make up for the loss of bandwidth to individual devices. (Amazon says that Bridge devices can only share a maximum of 80 Kbps with the Sidewalk server, or about “1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high-definition video.”)

“For example, if your Echo device loses its Wi-FI connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router,” Amazon explained. “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 Wi-Fi 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.”

The service was also designed with “multiple layers of encryption” to protect the privacy of Sidewalk users, according to Amazon.

The Sidewalk service is supported by the following Bridge devices:

  • 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

Amazon is also not currently charging any fees to customers who partake in Sidewalk.

Even still, the idea of sharing a bit of bandwidth might rub some customers the wrong way, so Amazon is allowing users to opt out. To do so, Echo users will need to update their preferences in the Alexa app by choosing Settings, Account Settings, Amazon Sidewalk, and then selecting “off” to disable the service. Ring customers can opt out in the Ring app by choosing Control Center, Sidewalk, and then tapping a slider button.

Upon disabling Sidewalk, Bridge devices will still retain their “original functionality,” Amazon confirmed.

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