Does Amazon Alexa need Wi-Fi to operate?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- June 2021
You’ll always need an internet connection to use any of the Alexa devices. So, the answer to Does Amazon Alexa need Wi-Fi to operate is yes. It doesn’t matter if you have an Echo Dot, Echo Show or Fire TV stick, they all need a constant connection to the Amazon servers.
As these devices use your Wi-Fi connection to send and receive commands, they should be powered and connected. If either or both of these conditions aren’t met, then Alexa will refuse to work.
Rather than storing information directly on the devices, data is transmitted in real-time to the Amazon server, which in returns sends an answer to your command. So while Alexa does store your voices clips, they are only stored as temporary files.
These temporary files are used to translate and convert your voice commands into text (using natural language processing), which the server then uses as a command to compare and send data back. After completing your request, these files are deleted as they are no longer required.
Will Alexa work if I connect to a hotspot?
As you can now buy battery packs for your Echo Dot, you might wonder if you can use them with a Wi-Fi hotspot while outside the home to enjoy listening to music, games, jokes or another feature. Thankfully, you can.
If you’re not quite sure what a hotspot is, don’t worry as it’s easy to understand. Your smartphone uses digital networks to send and receive data, including text messages, calls and the internet.
You can, with the flick of an option turn this private Wi-Fi connection that’s only available to your phone, into a public one that can be accessed by any device nearby with a specific code. We call this a hotspot.
After you’ve enabled the hotspot on your mobile device, you’ll then reconnect the Alexa via the Amazon Alexa App:
- Open the Alexa App
- Select Device
- Select Echo & Alexa
- Select your device
- Select Change next to Wi-Fi Network and follow the instructions in the app. Make sure to select the right network.
By following these steps, you can enjoy your Alexa device anywhere, from the back garden to the local park!
Can I still use my Alexa device as a Bluetooth speaker?
Kind of. You’ll need to set it up using a Wi-Fi connection to configure the basics. Just remember, there’s a massive difference between Alexa and an Echo dot!
However, once set up, you can use your Alexa device as a Bluetooth speaker without needing a Wi-Fi connection. Great if you want to listen to your favourite album that’s already stored on your phone.
To use your device as a Bluetooth speaker, you need to:
- Open the Alexa application on your smartphone, select menu, and choose “Settings“.
- Select the device you would like to pair.
- Select Bluetooth.
- Select a device from the list
- Select “Forget”
- Repeat this step for all other Bluetooth devices on the list.
HowToGeek has a superb guide on how to use your Alexa device a Bluetooth speaker, which is worth reading.
That said, the Echo range of devices aren’t the best at reproducing audio. So, you might want to consider buying a Sonos Move, which is a battery-powered, Bluetooth speaker that delivers superb audio yet is highly portable.
Can I use Alexa Alarms without Wi-Fi?
Thankfully, your Alexa Alarms will work whether you have Wi-Fi or not. And while a lack of Wi-Fi will render most of Alexa’s functionality useless, your preset alarms are stored on the device and not on the Amazon server.
That said, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection to tell Alexa to turn off the alarm as this function is controlled using server-side software, including voice to text AI!
Hopefully, Amazon will add more functions to Alexa that can work without Wi-Fi.
What Alexa function won’t work without Wi-Fi?
Most of Alexa’s functions require Wi-Fi to work. So while you still have access to your alarms, if you’re using an Alexa skill to remind you to take medication or have your calender linked, then you’ll need to re-establish your Wi-Fi connection quickly.
How much Wi-Fi bandwidth does Alexa use?
You might wonder how much bandwidth your Alexa uses. Sadly it’s nearly impossible to calculate as it depends on how many skills you have installed, how often it updates, how often you have automated schedules run, and stream music etc.
Some Reddit users have tried to estimate a figure and have calculated that their device uses around 1Mbps when idle. However, this doesn’t take into consideration day to day use, which again is a hard figure to pin down.
Solving: “Alexa app is offline”
While this issue is a rarity, it was a real blight in 2017! Thankfully, getting your Alexa device and the app working together again is very simple. You should:
- Unplug your Alexa Echo device
- Uninstall the app on your mobile
- Restart your phone to clear its app cache
- Reinstall the app
- Check your Wi-Fi connect and re-connect your Alexa
- It should now connect.
If you want to learn more, then read How to Fix It When the Alexa App Says the Echo Is Offline by Livewire as it guides you through a few simple fixes.
So, does Amazon Alexa need Wi-Fi to work?
The answer to Does Amazon Alexa need Wi-Fi? is yes. So, if your Alexa device stops working, check your Wi-Fi router to ensure you have a strong connection. Otherwise, you’ll attempt to fix another issue, such as the blue ring of death, that’s actually non-existent!
As an inexpensive smart home assistant, Alexa is worth having in your life, even if it doesn’t fully work without Wi-Fi. Just think of the many ways that Alexa and an Amazon Echo device could enhance your life, even if you just use it as a budget Bluetooth speaker!
Unless you live in a remote part of Scotland or some far-flung island off the Devon coast, you should be able to find some basic form of Wi-Fi. You could turn on the hotspot on your phone or steal your neighbour’s (well, you haven’t needed to borrow sugar in a while!).
Even in those rare times when your street might be beset by a power cut or Wi-Fi outage, you should have at least another option to keep Alexa running!