14 December 2016

Data Hog? #AmazonEcho on a Metered Connection? Without Internet Altogether? Not so fast...

As a new Amazon Echo owner, I have been debating whether I should embrace "always on". Beyond the Big Brother security and privacy concerns of having constant eavesdropping by Amazon and worse still personal recordings plumbed by unscrupulous third-party data-miners, I wondered how much data does Alexa eat? And the answer seems to be that she is a glutton.

Cursory research returned numerous complaints of users suddenly blowing through data caps. Apparently, learning a user's habits, predicting his likes, ordering items and checking the latest sports scores takes a unbelievable amount of bandwidth. I'm talking upwards of 50GBs IN A DAY, if reports are accurate.

Ridiculous! (I would NOT advise using Alexa on a metered connection. If you must try it, make certain to turn the unit off completely when not actively using it. As an alternative, consider using the Alexa app only, which you must select to activate in the case of the Amazon Fire Tablet.)

So far, I've only come across one mention of someone using an Echo sans Internet (as a Bluetooth speaker), but I want to know if Alexa can be employed strictly across a local intranet, without needing to phone home (i.e., report back to Amazon). I don't care about generating orders or asking random questions, my interest is in using Alexa to control "smart" things and this could be made an entirely localized activity, so I'm currently experimenting and testing limits, still early in the setup phase.

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