NEW ORLEANS — Charter Communications, the second-largest U.S. fixed broadband service provider with nearly 26 million subscribers, appears to be finally getting set to offer a managed home WiFi experience to its customers.
According to individuals close to Charter and Plume Design Inc., the cable company will partner with the Palo Alto-based tech firm to deliver app-driven personalized whole-home WiFi experiences, AI cybersecurity protection and parental controls, including content filtering, to subscribers of Spectrum-branded broadband services.
Using Plume’s open-source software framework, which it calls OpenSync, Charter will gain access to wide-scale visibility of its users’ networks, while adding management tools for real-time experience management, troubleshooting and outage avoidance, the sources said.
A Charter rep told Multichannel News the cable company had nothing to discuss about a possible Plume deal, as did Plume representatives.
Plume is a startup backed by investments of $42.2 million, with Comcast, Liberty Global and Samsung among its primary supporters. Comcast has used Plume technology for several years to offer its xFi managed WiFi service offering. This product lets Xfinity Broadband users monitor their home networks via their phone, observing and controlling, say, the internet usage of their teenage offspring on a granular level.
These kinds of WiFi tools are becoming table stakes in the cable industry. Plume said in July that its software and home WiFi hardware appliances would be used to power Butler, Pennsylvania-based Armstrong’s new “Zoom Powered by Plume”-branded smart-home WiFi solution. Plume also has an agreement to offer its services to National Cable Television Cooperative members.
Deployment of the managed WiFi software is more than a customer satisfaction play. It also gives operators data-usage insight that helps to direct sales efforts and informs them on broader network capacity decision-making.
Certainly, it was an active Cable-Tec Expo for Plume, which announced a deal with cable CPE maker Advanced Media Technologies (AMT). Under the agreement, Deerfield Beach, Florida-based AMT will distribute Plume’s WiFi pods, primarily to independent broadband providers.