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Plume picks up $270M at a $1.35B valuation to power smart home WiFi for broadband providers – TechCrunch

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The last year of life under a global health pandemic has seen a massive surge of people working from home — a shift that has thrown a stark light on the iffy quality of our broadband networks.

Today a startup called Plume — which has built a meshWiFi platform that helps optimize broadband connectivity and then uses it to deliver a range of smarter home services to some 22 million homes globally — is announcing a major funding round of $270 million that underscores the opportunity to fix that, and more.

We cut our teeth on it but have gone way beyond that to services like advanced parental controls, secure access controls, which devices can access networks and what passwords they use.

“The ultimate product for Plume is a comprehensive, cloud-driven platform that enables consumers to curate, manage and deliver these services.

Unless you have been following the business of home broadband networking, you may not be familiar with the name Plume.

The company, based out of Palo Alto, has deals in place with some 170 carriers around the globe that provide residential broadband services, reselling Plume’s mesh technology as a way to improve home WiFi connectivity — especially critical in older or bigger homes, and dwellings where you have many people connecting to and straining your broadband network — providing Plume-powered services like network security, parental access controls and motion awareness on top of that.

Plume brands those added services as HomePass, and on top of this it also provides a cloud-based operations tools to carriers, Haystack and Harvest, which help them with customer support, to manage their networks, glean better performance analytics and provide insights on customer usage and churn.

There have been a number of efforts over the years to improve WiFi in the home, from faster networks through to better routers and WiFi extenders.

Plume’s technology is based on one of those alternatives, mesh architecture — also used by others like Google in its Nest WiFi system — which uses a single router and then a series of nodes that operate as if they are a single device on the network (extenders by contrast use different SSIDs and passwords).

On top of the mesh architecture, Plume then runs a software-defined network to identify and better measure the traffic, using automation to, for example, then detect and fix when a device is on the network, may need more power to work properly, and so on.

As Diner points out, Plume’s service stack is based not around a router (as Eero’s primarily was) but on mesh technology that plus an open source silicon-to-cloud framework platform for building services to run on the mesh network that it calls OpenSync.

This essentially allows service providers to build their own services on top of Plume’s mesh architecture.

“Growth in the smart home category is exploding, but the quality of consumer experience has fallen short,” said Insight Partners Managing Director Ryan Hinkle, in a statement.