Does Alexa Need Wi-Fi to Work?


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Many people ask: Does Alexa Need Wi-Fi to work?

The short answer is: Yes, Alexa needs an active Wi-Fi connection. 

Amazon’s Alexa relies on a steady Wi-Fi connection to perform its functions and connect to other devices, applications, and features. The only non-Wi-Fi thing that you can do with Alexa is to use Bluetooth to stream music from your smartphone or tablet to your connected Echo device.

I’ll go through the various aspects of Alexa and Wi-Fi connections, and how they work together and work with Amazon Echo devices. These will be similar for all smart home devices that are compatible with Alexa.

Will Alexa Work Without Wi-Fi?

A quick answer is no, at least not if you want to use anything like an Echo device’s full potential. Without Wi-Fi, Alexa-enabled smart home devices can really only be used as a Bluetooth speaker. Even then, Alexa would need to be online initially to complete the set up procedure, the instructions on how to set this up are detailed further on in the article.

Apart from that, Alexa relies on Wi-Fi with an active internet connection to use any of its main features and functions. 

There are a few other basic tasks that Alexa can perform while offline, such as controlling connected smart home devices, I will cover more on this a little later in this article. But for the most part, Amazon Echo devices and other Alexa-enabled devices without a Wi-Fi connection are like fish out of water. 

Why Alexa Does Not Work Without Wi-Fi

If you try to get Echo smart speakers to perform any task when it is offline, you will receive a message saying “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you right now.” This is an indication that Alexa doesn’t have a basic internet connection.

Many people also love to use their mobile devices with Alexa. Mobile device voice control also requires an internet data connection like a 4g or 5g cellular network. 

Voice commands that are issued to it are not processed on the local device, instead they are sent over the internet to Amazon’s servers where a Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm is used to understand the voice command. Alexa’s reply or action to be taken is then sent back from the servers to your Alexa-compatible devices.

The other major factor that stops it from working offline is down to the fact that it streams music, videos, podcasts, news reports, Google searches and other services directly from the internet. For example, Amazon Music streaming services are popular, but the music is streamed directly through the internet. 

How to Connect Alexa and Amazon Echo to Wi-Fi

  1. Step 1 – If you don’t have the Alexa app installed on your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet, then head to the appropriate app store and install the app. 
  2. Step 2 – Turn on your Alexa device. If it is the first time it has been turned on, it should go straight into setup mode. This is indicated by the ring around the top of the device displaying an ORANGE color. If it doesn’t go into this mode automatically, press and hold the ACTION button (this has a single dot in the center) until the ring turns ORANGE
  3. Step 3 – On your smart device, open the Alexa app and find the DEVICES option. This is found along the bottom of the screen. Once you have selected this you will see a symbol at the top right-hand corner of the screen, select this to add a new device. 
  4. Step 4 – Select the ADD DEVICEoption that appears towards the bottom of the screen. Follow the onscreen instructions to select the Alexa device you are adding. Choose – Amazon Echo – Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus and More.
  5. Step 5 – The setup will now ask to confirm the device is in setup mode. If it isn’t, then follow the instructions provided in the app to put the device into the correct mode.
  6. Step 6 – At this point, you are now instructed to go to your phone or tablet’s Wi-Fi Settings. Effectively, your phone or tablet is acting as a mobile hotspot and should be listed as an available network. It will be displayed as Amazon-****, with a sequence of numbers and letters replacing the asterisks.
  7. Step 7 – Go back into the Alexa app and you will be instructed through the final steps. This includes selecting the Wi-Fi network you want the device to connect to and enter the password for it. Alexa will now connect to the network and your smart device will reconnect to your own Wi-Fi router.

What Can Alexa Do Without a Wi-Fi Connection?

Alexa has limited functionality while offline, however, there are still a few skills and functions it’s capable of without a wireless connection to the internet. 

  • Bluetooth Audio Device – Using a Bluetooth connection, it’s possible to use Amazon Echo devices, like the Echo Dot Speaker, as Bluetooth speakers.
  • Control Smart Devices – Even when offline, Alexa can still control compatible smart devices that are paired directly with the device, including smart lights, smart plugs, smart thermostats, and switches.
  • Date and Time – Provide Date and Time information
  • Volume – Control the volume of the Echo device.
  • Alarms and Notifications – You can cancel any alarms, timers, or other notifications that were set prior to the device being disconnected. 

Interestingly, one other task that Alexa is capable of while offline is answering the question “What can you do offline?” Alexa’s response is to take you to the help section in the Alexa app. 

Until 

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

Currently Wi-Fi traffic accounts for over 60% of all worldwide internet usage. Let’s understand what it is exactly. 

Wi-Fi (aka Wireless Fidelity) at its most basic, is a way of passing digital data from one device to another using wireless frequencies. Its most common use is as a method of connecting electronic devices through a router, which can then transmit data on to the internet or amongst the devices. This configuration is generally known as a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN. 

Wi-Fi sends signals and data between devices using radio frequencies. Wi-Fi devices operate in the GHz (Gigahertz) frequency range, most commonly 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, these are high frequency bands that can transmit a lot of data quickly, but over relatively short distances.

Non-Wi-Fi devices use Kilohertz (kHz) and Megahertz (MHz). The base of all them is the Hertz (Hz) unity of frequency, one cycle per minute.

All wireless devices must adhere to a set of technical standards and protocols that are known as 802.11. There are various versions of these technical standards as detailed below. 

IEEE StandardFrequencyMaximum Speed
802.11a5 GHz54mbps 
802.11b2.4 GHz11mbps
802.11g2.4 GHz54mbps
802.11n2.4 GHz/5 GHz600mbps

How Much Bandwidth Does Alexa Use?

Bandwidth use should only be a concern if you’re not using fixed Wi-Fi networks like mobile hotspots. Most people will pay each month for a broadband connection that connects to a Wi-Fi router for a dedicated WiFi connection.

Alexa’s bandwidth usage varies hugely depending on how you use it and which device you are using. For example if you have an Echo Show 10 and stream many HD movies, then the bandwidth that goes through your Alexa device will be relatively high.

However, if you stream music or a radio station for a few hours or so each day, then the data usage will be low. If you just ask Alexa for some news or a weather forecast every now and again then the bandwidth usage will be negligible. Audio data uses less bandwidth, playing hours of music is uses less than video.

As a rough guide for bandwidth use, check out the figures in this list. 

  • Daily Idle Usage – 7 MB per day, this figure is with no commands or requests made to the device.
  • Commands – These vary depending on what’s being asked and the complexity of the reply, but an average figure would be around 250 KB for each. 
  • Music and Streaming Services – Most streamed music, radio, or podcasts will use around 60 MB of data per hour, this can rise as high as 100 MB depending on the quality of the streaming files.
  • Video – If you stream HD video to your Echo Show or other smart display devices, this can have a bandwidth of up to 3.5 Mbps, that equates to around 1.5 GB per hour.

How to Use Alexa as a Bluetooth Speaker

You can use your Echo smart speaker as a standalone Bluetooth speaker without Wi-Fi connectivity. However, in order to set this up, you will still need to have it connected to the Internet during the initial setup. 

One way to do this is if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection is to use your smartphone as a Mobile Wireless Hotspot and connect the Alexa device to the hotspot. Using this method allows your Echo device to use your mobile data plan as an option to power the Echo. 

Once your smartphone is connected to the internet through a cellular data connection, follow the steps below to set up your device as a Bluetooth Speaker. 

  1. Step 1. Open the smartphone or tablet you want to connect to Alexa and navigate to Bluetooth Settings. Depending on the make and model, you will need to get the smart device to scan or pair with new devices.
  2. Step 2. Tell Alexa to ‘Pair‘ or to ‘Turn Bluetooth on.’
  3. Your Echo device should now appear as an available device on your smart device, simply select it to complete the pairing.
  4. You’re now able to use your Alexa device as a Bluetooth speaker. 

Whenever you want to use your Echo device as a smart speaker in the future, go to your phone’s Settings, then Bluetooth Settings, and connect it to your Alexa Device.

Do Amazon Echo Dots Need Wi-Fi?

Yes, Amazon Echo Dots require Wi-Fi to perform anything but the most menial of tasks. The Echo Dots can still work as a Bluetooth Speaker or for basic controlling of compatible smart devices.

As with all Alexa-enabled devices, the core functions such as responding to queries, streaming music and any other skills you have installed are all dependent on an internet connection. 

Does the Amazon Echo Show Need Wi-Fi?

Yes, the and of the Amazon Echo Shows need a Wi-Fi connection to the internet to offer the full range of functions. The Show is no different from any other Alexa devices.

The Echo Show relies on the internet to stream video and music, answer queries, make remote video calls, and offer the remote camera services that allow you to view what’s going at home remotely.

If you’re looking for more Alexa and smart home related articles, here are a few more: