Amazon built out an enormous IoT network in the United States right under everyone’s noses.
In a blog post, the company announced its Sidewalk network is now available for developers to test out. Right now, internet-of-things devices like smart thermostats, sensors, and door locks usually depend on a Wi-Fi network to operate. However, depending on where the device is in relation to the router, connectivity can be spotty. This is what Amazon is hoping to solve with Sidewalk.
Dave Limp, the company’s senior vice president of Amazon Devices & Services, said in a statement that Sidewalk is built to handle connectivity issues for devices like sensors and locks that have struggled to stay connected to Wi-Fi networks.
“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. Many types 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.”
Amazon has already been working with some developers to bring devices to Sidewalk. The first devices launching this year will come from companies like Netvox, OnAsset, and Primax. They will include some sensors as well as a smart door lock. The company has a test kit that developers can request in order to test to ensure that Sidewalk covers areas where companies want to deploy Sidewalk-compatible devices for. Incredibly, Amazon says that the network already covers about 90% of the population in the United States.
Amazon didn’t release its coverage map until today and I’m honestly shocked that it already covers 90% of people in the country. You can see that less populated areas are quite sparse but that’s honestly fine — the purpose of this network isn’t made to cover everywhere. That’s what cellular and satellite are for.
Speaking of which, Amazon just announced its competitor to Starlink which will bring satellite internet to the country starting in 2025. Panera also recently announced that it will start deploying Amazon’s palm recognition technology for MyPanera members.