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Broadband ISP TalkTalk Teams with Plume to Offer Adaptive WiFi Kit

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 (9:43 am) - Score 14,179

Budget UK ISP TalkTalk has today teamed up with Plume to offer their existing broadband customers “exclusive” access to a new “cloud-coordinatedWiFi system that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimise your home wireless network, which it claims could improve the signal’s coverage, stability and speed.

The new product essentially consists of several “SuperPod” devices (of a similar size to plug-in WiFi extenders), one of which will need to connect directly into TalkTalk’s router via Ethernet cable, and an app to help manage them. The service also adds customisable guest access for your network, as well as parental controls and various security features.

In simple terms this appears to be TalkTalk’s way of responding to BT’s new Complete Wi-Fi (mesh network) solution and just like the latter it’s not free. The Plume membership offered specifically for TalkTalk customers costs an extra £9 per month for a 1 year commitment, which includes a two-SuperPod starter pack. Additional SuperPods are £69 each for expansion of the home Wi-Fi coverage

Further details can be found on TalkTalk’s Plume page, where the service is expressed as being an “invitation-only launch” and as such customers will have to register their interest first. However you can still purchase Plume’s service directly from them too, albeit priced in USD.

Phil Amy, Director of Product at TalkTalk, said:

“We’re continuously looking for ways to deliver great connectivity around the home and we know that fast, reliable Wi-Fi coverage is really important to our customers, particularly as the amount of time they’re spending online is increasing. Plume’s easy to use and personalised service aligns directly with TalkTalk’s core values of providing simple and reliable connectivity.”

Sri Nathan, co-Founder of Plume, added:

“Since launching Plume in the US, we’ve received a tremendous amount of interest from the UK. We are thrilled to deliver a new level of personalisation, connectivity, and security in the home to TalkTalk subscribers.

TalkTalk is the perfect partner to expand Plume’s reach to a wider audience and continue our mission of delivering new, high quality services for the connected home.”

Interestingly the ISP “recommends” that you “switch off Wi-Fi on your TalkTalk router once Plume is set up,” which effectively makes it a replacement for the existing WiFi network on their router (TalkTalk’s latest Wi-Fi Hub router is comparatively good at wireless for a bundled device). In that sense some people might find it easier to just buy a WiFi signal extender on the cheap, since all these new mesh style WiFi systems tend to be quite pricey, but some bigger homes will certainly benefit.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. mike says:

    The way they obscure adjacent sockets is horribly impractical

    1. davidj says:

      Except here they will not because that video you just watched is of American sockets which are only 2/3rds the size of ours.

  2. Joe says:

    ” In that sense some people might find it easier to just buy a WiFi signal extender on the cheap, since all these new mesh style WiFi systems tend to be quite pricey, but some bigger homes will certainly benefit.”

    In fairness the mesh systems do seem more consistent and less drop/dead zone prone. Though obviously house size is the issue here.

    I run mesh to outbuildings which works nicely

    1. Meadmodj says:

      I knew it would not be long before others responded to BT’s “only we guarantee a strong wi-fi signal in every room of your home” but I am not sure they have chosen the right partner. As Mike states there are physical constraints (power socket, low position) but more important Plume have a business model of a subscription fee for their management software. In the first year this will presumably be included in the TT product but may continue going forward and I can’t see any clarification on ownership.

      The BT Complete WIFI is a slightly better offering as they will supply up to three discs (if pushed) and the app is free but again the charges are ongoing and BT technically owns the disc (though they may never recover them).

      3 Node mesh systems are now available from £100 up to many hundreds. These products above are mid priced units, easy to setup with the apps and there is no upfront cost however these deals need to be compared with the alternatives. As an example the three disc BT Whole Home WIFI is available at £199 or £7.68 a month over 3 years from a major UK retailer and can be found much cheaper elsewhere.

      I have personally tested both BT Complete and Whole Home. Wired WIFI APs (PoE) will always be better in my opinion if designing your network from the start but the performance of these mid range mesh systems are very good, easily set up in minutes and will last the majority of users for many years regardless their ISP and broadband technology. If thinking long term I would recommend people acquire a solution independent of their ISP.

    2. Jonny says:

      I have the BT Complete Wi-Fi (with 1 disc) that was from part of a trial, and the performance was good enough to replace my previous wired 802.11n AP. As above, I’m not sure I’d want to be paying monthly for an extra AP vs. just waiting around for a bargain offer on a mesh kit, though I can see the value to someone having the ability to phone up BT and get more disks, tips on placement, firmware updates managed for them etc.

      The pairing of a reasonably premium product with TalkTalk’s basic service and then wanting £69 for a third AP doesn’t seem to be as well thought out as the BT offering where the Hub can take part in the mesh. Presumably we will see all the big ISPs bring out their own offerings as the technology matures.

    3. Joe says:

      I have external weather rated Mesh so mine are not a direct comp. I agree with the above if you want them better to find a deal and buy them than ‘rent’ them. (Though maybe in a house with kids who might ‘break’ them the rental could work!)

      Clever way of making people not swap ISPs though as they will lose their mesh!

    4. Jonathan says:

      The reason for that is that the mesh systems tend to do roaming, which an extender does not. The problem with WiFi extenders is that mobile devices that move around the home hang onto the first AP they connected to even when right next to a different one giving rubbish connectivity. Remember roaming is a recent bolt on to the WiFi standard, and without it in the modern era of mobile devices like phones and tablets getting good whole home WiFi from multiple AP’s is a none starter.

  3. SuperFast Dream says:

    Good grief these things look ugly (imho), I wonder if they make your hair stand on end as you pass them!

  4. Bart says:

    Free solution:
    1. Ensure that your ISP router and other hotspots at home use one of the following three channels: 1, 6 or 11. No “auto”. No other channel value.
    2. Talk to your neighbors to do the same.
    3. Don’t buy any extenders, they only waste limited radio spectrum.
    4. Place your router in central place of your home.

    WiFi spectrum is shared medium. Same as the air we breathe. Be a good and use it responsibly, all will benefit.

    Rationale for above is to eliminate interferences and allow hotspots to share spectrum in cooperative way. The above is the only way to fix WiFi. Don’t buy stuff that promises to defy physical laws.

    1. Jim Weir says:

      @Bart – 1,6,11 applies only to 2.4GHz 20MHz Channels, for 40MHz Channels it is ch3 & ch11 but that isnt very neighbourly.

      These days most devices will self select 5GHz if available where there are more channels and less overlap, unless the larger channel widths are deployed

    2. Bart Prokop says:

      Realistically, HT40 shouldn’t be used at all, especially in dense residential areas. For multiple reasons…

  5. David Toomey says:

    Big mistake teaming up with Talk Talk, their technical support is like a circus, we deal with them on behalf of our IT clients, what a totally shambles they are very far from technical.

  6. Matt Davies says:

    Tenda Nova is a one off cost and will give you great coverage. MW3 is less than £70 for 3 nodes. Paying 9 quid a month seems like an ongoing cost you don’t need to me.

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