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Featured Plume is turning its mesh Wi-Fi into a subscription service

Discussion in 'General Wireless Discussion' started by Razor512, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Razor512

    Razor512 Senior Member

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    Plume is moving to a subscription based system for their products in order to maintain the features which they refer to as "Active Management", though they fail to detail what that entails, and if the subscription is not paid, they claim that the products will continue to function but with reduced functionality (though no mention as to what extent).

    The article also mentions that existing Plume Pod owners will be grandfathered in, but it does not detail to what extent in relation to the cloud reliant features.

    The service plan is $60 per year or $200 for a lifetime plan.

    While the company is very vague on what is offered and what is taken away when you don't pay up, in drawing inferences from their claims of grandfathering in older Plume Pods, we can assume that non-grandfathered plume pod devices will end up with far less functionality if the user does not pay the subscription fees.

    [Ed note, the company also announced its tri-band SuperPod. Jim Salter got an exclusive sneak peak at it and reviewed it over at Ars.]

    https://www.theverge.com/circuitbre...-adaptive-wifi-subscription-service-announced
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2018
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  3. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    I want a plume! or any reliable durability tested mesh networking system. But it's going to be hard to beat a used 10 dollar gigabit router with a unix-like open source operating system installed, used as a firewall, with no known security issues; coupled with the AP's of my choice. Good luck, Plume, subscription service!
     
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  4. TheLostSwede

    TheLostSwede Regular Contributor

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    $200 for the "lifetime" plan (which only gives you 5 years warranty) seems like an ok-ish deal, considering you get a steep hardware discount. However, the $60 a year plan is a con imho. It's also rather disingenuous that the company is selling features that they can't explain what they're for , as per the Verge story. Why would I pay money for something the manufacturer can't even explain the benefit of? `
    Personally I prefer web based UI's where I have my entire computer screen to use to configure things (and a keyboard for typing) compared to app controlled devices like this. However, I seem to be part of the old guard when it comes to this and most consumers seem to prefer an app. Apps are great for notifications and simple things, but not for full configuration imho.
    Regardless how good this product is, I can't get behind paying a subscription fee to use Wi-Fi in my own home. It's as silly as renting a router from your service provider.
     
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  5. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Are there any happy (or unhappy) Plume users out there? Let's hear from you.
     
  6. Jim Salter

    Jim Salter Occasional Visitor

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    Hard agree. And yet even pro products have been going this route - Ubiquiti offers config of standalone UAPs from a mobile app but not by web UI, for example.

    I can't imagine being ok with the $60/yr either. The lifetime plan, I'm ok with; when product A costs $400, product B costs $460 including lifetime license, and product C costs $530 there isn't much to holler about; figure out which bucket has the most apples and you're good.

    That said, I'm not the customer. I doubt many of us in this forum are. I was never okay with cars I couldn't change the spark plugs on without pulling the intake and lifting the block with a chain hoist, but that didn't stop manufacturers from making them that way, and didn't stop consumers from buying them that way.

    If I had to have WiFi mesh I'd grumble about the mobile interface and a few other things and buy superpods with a lifetime site license anyway, and just put them in bridge mode behind a real router most likely. But fact is I've got the whole house wired and I dropped real access points all over the joint for what few things I don't have plugged in, so... If I were the customer, there wouldn't be a market for half this stuff. :)
     
  7. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Hi @Jim Salter - saw your review on another site - well written and interesting tech they've done.

    Getting to Plume and the subscription - they need to pay the bills and get profitable - the Comcast money helps...
     
  8. Jim Salter

    Jim Salter Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks sfx!

    I think they might have been better off pitching the packs as just plain costing the same as the pack + the lifetime sub, and coming with the lifetime sub for free, TBH. They are taking one heck of a roasting from pretty much all sides as it is.

    Maybe offer "discount with annual service" for people who want to do the $60/yr, to capture the "put it on credit" crowd looking to pay the least amount the day they buy it, if you know what I mean. There would definitely have been a bunch to do exactly that and for exactly that reason. But as it is I think they alienated a bunch of people that would have accepted a 4-pack of pods at $460 outright "plus lifetime support" without batting an eye.
     
  9. Jim Salter

    Jim Salter Occasional Visitor

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    Yeah, on reflection, that's EXACTLY how they should have pitched it. $460 outright with lifetime support included, or perpetual lease at $260 down and $60/yr, including permanent replacement warranty for as long as the lease is paid.

    I think I just made a car analogy by accident; don't hurt me.
     
  10. tannebil

    tannebil Regular Contributor

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    I’ve bern using Plume for 15 months in my 1.5 floor, 2600sf house. My seven pods replaced three eeros which replaced several iterations of AirPort Extreme/Express extended networks and a variety of ASUS and Netgear wireless routers over the years. I replaced the eeros not because I was unhappy with them (I redeployed them at a friend’s house and just installed eeros gen2 at my neice’s house) but because I wanted to try out the low-power/high density design of Plume.

    I currently have seven pods installed. Five are on wired GB Ethernet and two are on MoCA 2.0 bonded connections. I like wired connections because they perform better and make locating the pods less complex because you no longer have to simultaneously trade off the client coverage with the strength of the backhaul connections. I initially did all wireless backhaul and optimizing the layout was frustrating even with excellent assistance from Plume. It’s just a hard optimization problem made tediously slow by needing the optimizer to run before benchmarking changes.

    As Jim and Tim can testify, comprehensive testing of real world networks is not easy nor is it simple to conclude one configuration is “better” than another. I’m much less ambitious and capable than either of them and confined my testing to a single client running iperf3 against a wired 2012 Mac Mini. The client was either my iPad Pro 12.9” (Gen 1) or my iPhone (originally a 7, now an 8). Occasionally, I’d test with a 2014 15” MacBook Pro. I have about 40 devices connected to the network including a TiVo, multiple Apple TVs, a half dozen iPhone/iPads, five Wyze cameras, and a bunch of IoT devices. My current Internet connection is 300/15 Comcast service with a XR6 configured as a modem/router. The pods are in bridge mode. My network has 7 switches and three MoCA adapters. It’s bigger and more complicated than average but not crazy land. I spent 20 years in corporate IT support jobs with the majority of that installing and supporting infrastructure so it’s not my first rodeo.

    I wanted to give you all that background to provide come context to my experience and conclusions. I’ll start by saying that I’ve never been happier with my WiFi network than I am right now. I wouldn’t say it ever was bad before but it seemed like there were always nagging problems with poor coverage in spots, access points that needed to be rebooted, unexplicable slowdowns/disconnects, and roaming issues. Some of that was due to the state of the tech as 802.11ac on today’s hardware is so much better and faster than 802.11b on the initial Apple Airport back in 1999 but I prefer the Plumes to both the eeros and the AirPort Extreme. I’m able to place the eeros close to where I want the the best coverage and move them around if my needs change. They roam relatively quickly because the low power makes it more likely that the signal strength will drop enough to trigger the client to roam when I move from one part of the house to another. The app is good although I wish it provided more information about the network that the optimizer sees and provided better presentation of information it does have. I’d rate it as better than eero, AirPort, or xFi.

    Max performance is around 350Mbps depending on the distance to the pod, the client tested, and factors that I don’t understand or control. I just ran an iperf3 (500MB, 1 sec intervals) from my iPad Pro and got 349-373Mbps. Thanks to wired backhaul, I get that in every room in my house. I’ve done some testing with wireless backhaul and throughput drops roughly in half. That said, the actual day-to-day experience at 150Mbps on our iDevices with our usage is indistinguishable from 350. More importantly, the actual experience everywhere in the house is identical. Almost all the heavy lifting in my house is on PCs and Macs that are either permanently hardwired or can be jacked in when needed. That may not be your situation.

    So why did I choose eero over Plume for my niece? First, her husband doesn’t like the look of anything plugged into wall outlets so a few power cords were preferred to lots of pods (big house). More importantly from my POV, the current generation of pods have to be used in bridge mode in any moderately complex world. Since a pod only has one port, if you use it as a router, all your wired equipment ends up with a wireless hop to the Internet which I consider completely unacceptable. That means either adding the compexity of an additional router or living with the crappy router in the Comcast box. eero doesn’t suffer from that limitation so it’s easier to install and support. That changes with the SuperPod which I’m switching to at my house so I can switch my XR6 into bridge mode (although the XR6 is less crappy a router than the Arris it recently replaced at my house). If the SuperPod has existed six months ago (and is good), I wouldn’t have offered up the eero as an option.

    The only real pain point for me is that I’d like the ability to have separate SSIDs for 2.4 and 5. Partly because I’d like devices capable of using 5 to only use 5 and partly because IoT support whines uncontrollably about not having a distinct 2.4 network when I call with a problem. It’s never an actual problem; their scripts and training just don’t account for it.

    The $200 lifetime/$60/year “membership” leaves me puzzled because I don’t see it as much of a revenue boost for Plume given the deep hardware discount and the relatively cheap lifetime option. In return, they are getting a bunch of grief from people that don’t like anything that looks like a subscription. My personal view is that my financial life is full of regular payments of all kinds so I don’t really care. Magazines, newspapers, charitables, utilities, insurance, software subscriptions or upgrades, lease payments, yada, yada, yada. All I care is if it solves a problem for me at a fair price. I’m not going to switch to the $60/year from my grandfathered lifetime but only because the benefit is just extended warranties and that’s not worth $60 to me. On the other hand, if they wanted to provide Wi-Fi for my house as a service for a few hundred a year, I might bite on that. It’s very liberating to be make these kinds of things somebody else’s problem (I believe in city water, power, waste collection, and sewer as well). Maybe it’s holdover from the days when people thought it was my problem to fix so I had paid for contracts with companies like Cisco and DEC to fix their stuff when things went wrong.

    I understand there are people that don’t see it that way just as I understand there are people that don’t want any cloud dependencies. I’m just not one of them. It’s like when friends that tell me their photos and videos are the most important thing in the world and they would just die if they lost them but then refuse to pay a $5/month for offsite backup. It’s a real head scratcher for me.
     
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  11. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Thanks for the detailed report, tannebil. So since you are using Plumes as wired APs, what do you think is their advantage over using inexpensive 2x2 ac APs like those we recently reviewed?

    Also, do you know if they support 11k,v or r?
     
  12. tannebil

    tannebil Regular Contributor

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    These I care about

    Single, simple point of configuration, management, control, and reporting (e.g. total bandwidth used by device)
    Better roaming from high density, low power access points
    Superior support


    These I don’t because I don’t have kids or a lot of heavy, simultaneous WiFi use (only two of us and the heavy lifting is on wired connections)

    Value added services like additional security, parental controls
    Ongoing optimization of channels
    Guest network with one-time and individual passwords

    I’ve not seen anything about k/v/r support. Salter might know. I’ve never experienced glitches that seem roaming related but it’s not something that I stress. My roaming needs are more about wanting a faster connection once I’ve changed rooms rather than wanting to be able to wander around the house on a call where roaming hiccups are more likely to be an issue.

    BTW, most of those things come with any mesh system. Plume’s big edge comes in roaming from the high density strategy. That might well be wishful thinking on my part as roaming is a nightmare to test since it’s so client specific when using consumer gear. We take a lot on faith when doing things like adjusting transmit levels. Not to mention the complexities created by a unified 2.4/5 SSID when the two bands propagate so differently. I do admire the courage of anyone that tries to comprehensively test roaming but am a long way from accepting any such tests as anything more than interesting reading.

    I’m largely operating on a big dose of faith, my own experience, and a great deal of skepticism about the generalizability of my own experience.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
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  13. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I think a few websites have twisted the story....

    The $460 lifetime (or $60/year) is actually a decent deal for a managed network solution... this includes the HW replacement for any plume nodes that fail, software updates, and a NOC to provide support and management.

    I think the pricing is quite fair.
     
  14. Jim Salter

    Jim Salter Occasional Visitor

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    Agree 100% - that's kinda the point; the price is perfectly fine for what you get, but the way they positioned it is clumsy and costing them IMO.

    Their CEO says it's part of the strategy to get people to think about everything differently and that he regrets nothing; we'll see.
     
  15. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I think he's ok with the idea - I get it... challenge for him is how to tell the story that folks will accept.

    $200 for lifetime vs. $60/year assumes that his tech at present has a half-life of 12 months, which means in 3 years, it'll be obsolete compared to what Plume has to offer in the next two years

    That is actually valid, when looking at where things are with BHR's and Mesh - tech always moves forward...
     
  16. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    FWIW - wouldn't be the first home router vendor to support a subscription based device...

    https://www.roqos.com/residential.html

    They've had some challenges as well - would be nice to see Plume and Roqos on the same page - for me, that would solve both the routing and the WiFi...
     
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