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Amazon introduces long-range wireless network for smart homes

Technology News |
By Rich Pell


The idea behind the new protocol, called Amazon Sidewalk, is to offer a “middle-ground” wireless technology for devices in the space around homes – like sensors and smart lights – that can benefit from low-cost, low-power, low-bandwidth connections. Users of such devices, says the company, “shouldn’t have to settle for connected devices that lose functionality past the front door.”

Amazon Sidewalk is presented as a new long-term effort to greatly extend the working range of low-bandwidth, low-power, smart lights, sensors, and other low-cost devices customers install at the edge of their home network. Using already tested and established 900-MHz spectrum technology, the new protocol is projected to increase the connection range of these devices by more than one half mile/one kilometer.

“With Amazon Sidewalk,” says the company, “customers will be able to place smart devices anywhere on their property and know they’ll work great, even in dead spots where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth don’t reach.”

Currently, when users place a smart device at the edge of their home network, poor network connectivity can prevent that device from receiving important feature and security updates. By extending long-range, low-bandwidth connections using the Amazon Sidewalk network, says the company, users won’t have to worry about smart devices that don’t have access to the latest security updates or work as intended because they’re out of network range.

“In the near future,” the company adds, “we also see the potential to help customers get more from 900-MHz connections in their neighborhoods, creating a broad network among neighbors that can be used to extend connectivity all the way to your mailbox out at the street where a smart sensor lets you know exactly when your mail has been delivered, or to a water sensor that lets you know it’s time to water the garden in the backyard.”

Such a neighbor-created network, says the company, demonstrates the potential of Amazon Sidewalk – a broad coverage network, ideal for low-bandwidth, low-cost devices, that requires no complex setup or maintenance for users. With Sidewalk, the company says it also sees the opportunity to deliver new devices and experiences to users, with one example being its just-announced Ring Fetch pet tracker – the first device to use the Sidewalk protocol.

“In the future,” says the company, “expanding the Amazon Sidewalk network will provide customers with even more capabilities like real-time location information, helping you quickly reunite with your lost pet. For device makers, Fetch also serves as a reference design to demonstrate the potential that devices connected to a broad, reliable network can provide to their customers.”

The company says it plans to publish protocols that any manufacturer can use to build reliable, low-power, low-cost devices that benefit from access to long-range, low-bandwidth wireless connections. Those interested can sign up to be notified of Amazon Sidewalk updates.

Related articles:
Wireless options for the IoT
IoT access points to form the ‘People’s Network’
Sony unveils LPWA IoT communication module
LoRaWAN puts security first
Testing LPWAN IoT technology: An essential step to a connected future


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