Most people these days get their WiFi routers from their broadband provider.
So when it came time to raise more funds, Plume, a startup that’s developed an innovative WiFi technology, thought it would be important to team up with some of them.
On Tuesday morning, the Palo Alto company announced that it’s raised $US37 million in a third round of venture financing. Among the investors are Comcast, which is the largest broadband provider in the United States, and Presidio Ventures, which is a sister company of J:Com, one of Japan’s broadband providers.
Although the startup debuted its technology on a router system it sells directly to consumers, Plume CEO Fahri Diner said the big opportunity in the market is to work with the internet providers.
“We’re very much service provider focused,” he said.
Both Comcast and Presidio Ventures are new investors in Plume. Another new investor in the company is Samsung Venture Investment. Plume’s prior investors, including Liberty Global, Shaw Cable, and Jackson Square Ventures, also joined in the new funding round, which brings the total amount the company has raised to more than $US63 million.
Plume has developed a kind of mesh WiFi system that uses multiple access points to help distribute signals throughout a house. The system it offers to consumers resembles that of Eero, with small WiFi access points that plug into outlets spread around the house.
But Plume’s system, which it dubs “Adaptive WiFi,” relies on a cloud-based network management service. Computers in Plume’s data centres dynamically configure the WiFi network in users’ homes. They allocate channels and bandwidth to particular devices as needed and hand devices off to different access points as gadgets are moved around the house.
That service can be used not just with its own access points, but with those of other manufacturers, as long as Plume’s software has been installed on them.
Last month, Comcast announced it would be using both Plume’s pod and its technology in other routers to offer better WiFi coverage for its customers. Comcast is only one of several “tier one” service providers Plume is working with to offer its service, Diner said.
The WiFi routers consumers get from their service providers don’t generally have the best reputation for providing good coverage, he noted. Other WiFi companies have tried to solve that by focusing on the retail market. But Plume saw a bigger opportunity elsewhere.
“What you get from the service providers is terrible,” he said. “We said, ‘Let’s go help them.'”