Network by Amazon Sidewalk

Your IoT & LoRa Network by Amazon Sidewalk.

For those of you interested in Amazon’s Sidewalk program for IoT, then you came to the right place.

Amazon Sidewalk is an Amazon project where Amazon, more or less, put LoRa gateways in several devices. They put LoRa access in Ring spotlight and floodlight cams, some Echo devices, and maybe some other devices.

What is LoRa?

It’s a wireless protocol that is used in IoT devices. Low power, ok range, and low data applications. 

LoRa is short of Long Range and has a better range than Wi-Fi. It operates in the 915 MHz spectrum in the US. 

In rural areas, they say you can get up to 10 miles range, but I haven’t seen that. It goes pretty far, maybe a few miles reliably. When you get to the urban areas there is so much RF that this low-power device can go up to a mile, more if you’re lucky. That’s what I have seen.

The protocol is a standard, which is great when buying devices because it will work on any LoRa-certified gateway, like all those Amazon Sidewalk devices I mentioned.

Learn more.

LoRa Pros:

  • Wireless (always a plus!),
  • Good range compared to Wi-Fi,
  • Unlicensed, which is free like Wi-Fi,
  • Accepted and common protocol managed by the LoRa Alliance,
  • Amazon devices,
  • Apparently, today, Sidewalk access is free,
  • Many IoT devices are using LoRa,
  • Bidirectional data communication,
  • One gateway can handle hundreds of devices,
  • Remote devices have great battery life,
  • Machine – to machine (M2M) devices work great on this network,
  • Doesn’t kill batteries like Wi-Fi was known to do.
  • If using Amazon Sidewalk
  1. Free network for now at least,
  2. Amazing residential coverage,
  3. Tons of enabled LoRa devices,
  4. Will extend existing LoRa networks out there today,
  5. No monthly access charge as of today,

LoRa Cons:

  • Very low data throughput, 300 to 5.5Kbps, way worse than Wi-Fi or 5G,
  • No voice communication,
  • No video,
  • Almost line of sight (LOS),
  • Not necessarily real-time due to latency so let’s say near-real-time,
  • Shouldn’t be used for continuous communication but for bursts of updates,
  • Latency could be an issue,
  • Unlicensed, like Wi-Fi, someone could put something up next to you and interfere and there’s nothing you can do about it except bitch,
  • If you want long-range, look into LoRaWAN which is Long Range Wide Area Network,
  • Not sure what security you have or if you need it, but it could still be a security risk,
  • Spotty coverage,
  • If using Amazon Sidewalk:
  1. Amazon put in the device, but the end user can opt-out if they want to and that may hurt your coverage,
  2. The end user will lose a very small sliver of their network but they probably will never notice,
  3. No guarantee of reliability at all,
  4. No help desk to call if you lose a device,
  5. No coverage map so you have to try it first,
  6. It’s for tracking, not much else.

Why do 5G people care?

To be honest, many don’t, but here’s my take. (It’s my article, I’ll care if I want to.)

Offloading! This is a great way to offload all those pesky IoT devices from the 5G network, whether it’s private or commercial. Let’s put smaller devices on a free network in which people have no interest in paying a monthly fee. Let’s offload to a “free” network.

If we offload devices and traffic then small data usage devices are not a worry or a problem. Let’s put the important things on 5G.

We can put in even more LoRa gateways and have the backhaul connected to 5G if you want to extend coverage. 

Keep the problems in mind. Less secure, low data throughput, and spotty coverage. My biggest fear is if someone is relying on this network and the device can’t communicate. If it’s mobile, then you have a good shot at tracking it.

I also worry that it could be a security risk. Think of what lengths some hackers go to when hacking a network. This could be a hole. I don’t know how, but it’s something we have to consider. 

Offloading is good if it’s done with care and security. 

Finally, you know people are already connecting to 5G networks for backhaul with these devices connected to their network in some way. That may be a problem for the reason I mentioned above. I would like to think that 5G is secure enough that it’s not an issue, but maybe I am a little insecure and need some reassurance. That’s all.


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