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Sidewalk’s low-cost, long-range IoT coverage now extends to more than 90% of the U.S. population.

This week Amazon announced that its Sidewalk community IoT network was open to developers and invited them to “build the next billion connected devices”.

Amazon Sidewalk is a secure, low-bandwidth, long-range network that works over three existing wireless radio technologies. According to The Verge, these include Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for short distances, LoRa for long range, and frequency shift keying using 900MHz. These frequencies can bridge to the internet using any nearby Sidewalk gateway. Sidewalk gateways includes the Echo Show 10, Echo, Echo Dot smart speakers, and wired Ring spotlight and floodlight cameras. It can also connect to the company’s Sidewalk Bridge Pro to further extend its range.

Sidewalk is called a “community” network because it utilizes the bandwidth of individual internet connections of the people who own Alexa products which include Sidewalk Gateways.

Extensive coverage, but only in the US

“We’ve rapidly built out a long-range, low-bandwidth network that now covers more than 90% of the U.S. population, and this is an open invitation for developers to put it to the test,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices & Services.

“Many sorts of connected devices have been limited by the range of Wi-Fi and the cost of cellular technology, which has hindered the ability to connect devices like environmental sensors, leak detectors, and smart locks. Sidewalk is designed to provide a secure, low-cost way to invent and connect a whole new range of devices, and we can’t wait to see what developers build.”

Devices connected to Sidewalk come with a secure, persistent, and low-cost connection to the cloud, according to Amazon. Newly-released public coverage maps showcase estimated Sidewalk coverage for any U.S. location. This enables developers to understand if their devices will connect in a desired area before starting product development.

Sidewalk test kits are “designed to validate real-world coverage by regularly pinging their location over the network, providing clear signal strength readings on a map within a developer portal”, Amazon said.

We do not see Amazon Sidewalk coming to Europe anytime soon. The privacy laws in Europe are a lot stricter. Also, using a customer’s WiFi connection to offer services to a third party will be a hard sell in Europe.