Quectel offers module as Amazon opens up Sidewalk

  • March 29, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Amazon has opened up its Sidewalk secure, low-bandwidth, long-range network for developer testing; Quectel has responded with a Sidewalk connectivity module.

Sidewalk coverage now extends to 90% of the US population, and free test kits are available for developers to validate the breadth of Sidewalk coverage for themselves as they build Sidewalk devices.

“We’ve rapidly built out a long-range, low-bandwidth network that now covers more than 90% of the US population, and this is an open invitation for developers to put it to the test,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president at Amazon. “Many types of connected devices have been limited by the range of wifi 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. Newly-released public coverage maps showcase estimated Sidewalk coverage for any US location, enabling 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.

Developers can now use the tools and technology from Sidewalk, AWS and silicon companies to build and onboard devices and supporting cloud-based applications to Sidewalk. Developers within Sidewalk’s coverage area can instantly connect a qualified silicon provider’s developer kit to the cloud without deploying their own network infrastructure. This also means developers’ customers can seamlessly add Sidewalk-enabled devices without installing new apps or providing new passwords to connect their devices to Sidewalk.

New tools and features available to developers include software and hardware development kits, connectivity modules, mobile software development kits (SDKs) and a tools app.

Distributed by silicon companies Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs and Texas Instruments, and module vendor Quectel, these SDKs support Sidewalk technology and enable developers to build their Sidewalk applications while integrating with existing silicon provider toolkits. This simplifies development for new Sidewalk designs and allows easy migration to Sidewalk for existing designs.

To support their SDKs for Sidewalk, Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs and Texas Instruments each offer hardware development kits (HDKs) for developers to tinker, prototype and design their applications on reference hardware. Additionally, Quectel offers a Sidewalk connectivity module, designed to help developers productise their Sidewalk-enabled devices and decrease their time-to-market.

Delivered by Amazon via GitHub, the mobile SDK for iOS and Android devices is designed to speed up the integration of Sidewalk technology into developers’ mobile apps. Amazon also offers a tools app for developers to debug and troubleshoot designs in the field.

AWS IoT Core integration with Sidewalk makes it easy for developers to access the AWS services and resources needed to connect Sidewalk-enabled devices to the cloud, including AWS IoT Core for Sidewalk. AWS IoT Core lets developers access and configure their Sidewalk-enabled devices via an easy-to-use web interface and offers a range of AWS services with which developers are already familiar. With AWS IoT Core for Sidewalk, device registration for the development kits is as simple as turning on the device, simplifying the onboarding experience for developers.

Developers can access the software, source code, scripts and documentation needed to connect devices to Sidewalk, providing AWS reference code that helps developers rapidly prototype.

“The integration of AWS IoT Core and Amazon Sidewalk marks a significant milestone for developers, manufacturers and customers, streamlining the design, connection and deployment of Amazon Sidewalk based IoT,” said Yasser Alsaied, vice president of IoT at Amazon Web Services. “Now, with AWS IoT Core for Amazon Sidewalk, developers can access more than 200 AWS services to build scalable solutions on top of a highly reliable, secure and free-to-connect wireless network.”

As Sidewalk opens to developers, customers will have more choice in the types of devices they can buy. Three companies are introducing Sidewalk-enabled devices available later this year. These are the Multi-Sense S315 from Netvox to keep homes and buildings safer by combining various sensors in one device, a sensor from OnAsset called Sentinel 200 so Sidewalk can provide logistics professionals with data on high-value shipments, and Woody, a smart door lock from Primax.

The Quectel KG100S module and a portfolio of matching antennas will be compatible with Sidewalk, making launching and maintaining connected IoT devices quicker, easier and cheaper. It is designed to provide persistent connectivity to devices that are outside of the range of typical home IoT networks.

The low-power module comes in an LGA form factor developed to support Sidewalk applications. It has a built-in SX1262 transceiver supporting LoRa and FSK and an energy-friendly Silicon Labs EFR32BG21B microcontroller with a 2.4GHz radio transceiver for Bluetooth Low Energy 5.1 and 80MHz Arm Cortex-M33 microcontroller core.

Measuring 15 by 15 by 2.25mm, it has 96kbyte of RAM and 1Mbyte of flash, and a 3.3 and 1.8V power supply. It is suitable for connecting low data rate applications such as sensor networks and smart home devices.

Quectel also offers a portfolio of embedded and external antennas to support Sidewalk designs and devices. By bundling module and antennas, device OEMs can ensure cost-effective devices with faster time to market.

Sidewalk modules also allow IoT devices to connect automatically and have no cost to transmit messages to Sidewalk, which removes the need for manual onboarding or set up to establish and maintain a connection. By doing this, Sidewalk brings connectivity to everyday objects inside and outside the home – kitchen appliances, gas sensors, lawn sprinklers, keys, rubbish bins, pet trackers and streetlights – instantly connected out-of-the-box through Sidewalk.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Amazon Sidewalk to bring advanced IoT connectivity to our customers,” said Norbert Muhrer, president of Quectel. “With the combination of Quectel’s expertise in IoT technology and Amazon Sidewalk’s low-bandwidth, long-range network, we are confident that this collaboration will provide customers with the connectivity they need to bring their IoT ideas to life.”

Sidewalk is a secure and reliable community network that uses participating Sidewalk bridges, such as compatible Amazon Echo and Ring devices, to provide cloud connectivity for third-party IoT devices. It enables low-bandwidth and long-range connectivity at home and beyond using Bluetooth Low Energy for short-distance communication and LoRa and FSK radio protocols at 900MHz frequencies to cover longer distances

Sidewalk’s encrypted technology leverages small portions of internet bandwidth from millions of participating Sidewalk bridges – everyday IoT devices found in communities and organisations around the world – to provide widespread wireless connectivity.