Consultant casts doubt on Amazon Sidewalk strategy - Mobile World Live

Consultant casts doubt on Amazon Sidewalk strategy

11 NOV 2019

Joe Tobolski, CTO at digital consulting company Nerdery, warned Amazon had engaged in pitched battles as it pushes for adoption of a new wireless protocol meant to bridge connectivity gaps for outdoor IoT devices.

Announced at Amazon’s recent hardware event, the Sidewalk protocol uses the 900MHz spectrum band and is meant to extend the range of connected devices to areas outside the home. Amazon argued the technology will offer an alternative to limited-range Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, along with 5G, which it said is reliable but complex.

The company said it will publish the specification for anyone to use, a move Tobolski acknowledged is a good sign because getting third-party manufacturers on board will be critical for success.

However, he noted Amazon is entering a market already crowded with IoT technology options, such as Zigbee and LoRa, all of which sit alongside 3GPP-approved low power wide area technologies NB-IoT, EC-GSM-IoT and LTE-M that use licensed mobile spectrum.

He suggested one move Amazon could make to woo device makers would be to hand over control of the protocol to a third-party governance committee “so it’s not just seen as benefitting Amazon”.

“If this is going to take off to any great degree and not be hampered by company-specific mandates and agendas, they need to create some sort of governance that removes any appearance of Amazon having a veto or control vote.”

The CTO added Amazon must also win over consumers: “They’ve got to generate a lot more use cases so it’s attractive to the mass market…Just having things be smart and talk to each other is not good enough”.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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