I'm sorry I do not want a subscription for everything. There are a few things that make a lot of sense on a subscription. Phone service, Netflix, cloud services etc. Car leasing can make sense.
There are an awful lot of things that are being forced into a subscription model. Editors, routers, throwaway printers with their delightfully expensive DRM'd inks. Purely as a means to squeeze a little more cash out of the punter.
"It seems inevitable that subscription services will come to more routers. We rarely buy new ones, and subscriptions give these companies a way to keep making money"
It does? Why? After 30 years of free, mostly junk, modems and routers from the ISP that rarely got replaced? Routers get replaced when the magic smoke escapes. Unless you're an outlier, like me, who reads HN the only interest you had in the router was connecting the phone and laptop when you unboxed it.
No, can't make sense of this.
No, I don't want an extended warranty with my £29 toaster either.
But this does not make any sense. You are already buying a router, and they're tacking on a subscription on top, for what appears to be snake oil.
Furthermore, as wifi is a shared medium, your experience is heavily dependent on the behavior of your neighbors. Routers can hop channels all they want, that doesn't make more room in the spectrum. If you want to stream a billion gigs per second over your fancy AC++ router, something that requires exactly half the available spectrum, you better live deep in the woods.
> ...If you let an annual membership lapse, your pods do not turn into paperweights; they just revert to the same status they had when you first turned them on. That means they'd have a very simple "we found each other, good enough" topology rather than a more optimal one determined by Plume's cloud NOC; you'd also lose any other features dependent on the NOC, like client-specific rulesets.
> The other perk of a membership in good standing is a rolling lifetime warranty for all pods... even after the original design is no longer manufactured. If you have a v1 pod that fails in 2022, you'll get a replacement with whatever 802.11ax-compliant replacement design is current then, for example.
> I'd recommend that anybody who's super angry about the "membership" concept to look into an apples-to-apples comparison that encompasses this lifetime cost. For example, in this article I compared a four-Superpod startup pack at $259. Add a $200 membership and it's $459 compared to the cost of an Eero + 2 Beacons (currently $389) or an Orbi RBK-53 (currently $530). If you're on the fence, you can make the initial buy with an annual membership and upgrade the annual to lifetime with a prorated refund of the remaining time on the annual. There's also a 60-day full-refund policy on both the hardware and the membership fee if you decide the system is not for you.
This seems a bit better than my initial impression, but I hope their messaging around the subscription frames it similarly to this article.
You could pay upfront, and many people do (that's what "enterprise" is and why it's $2000 for a $200 router)... but now the price of ongoing support is in reach of the average customer. (But they're mad that ongoing support is actually expensive.)
Now of course, if they do the same half-ass job that other router manufacturers do with ongoing support, the subscription fee won't be worth it. But if the product does continually improve relative to other offerings, then maybe it's the right business model.
Anyway, it is pure honesty to split out the hardware cost and the software engineering cost. The question is whether or not it's actually worthwhile to pay the software engineering cost. It's a pretty new idea, and there are plenty of reasons to not trust it... but in theory, I like it.
The incentives here are extremely perverse. The problem of insecure IoT gear was in many cases created by manufacturers cutting corners. Now they offer to fix it for money. It should not have been acceptable in the first place!
To use a car analogy - car manufacturers are compelled by regulation to do recalls on defects that impact the safety of a vehicle. They don't get to charge a monthly subscription to resolve their own mistakes. I'm not sure why we let tech companies get away with abusing their customers like this.
If you really want to throw money at a wifi problem, invest in some actual diagnostics hardware. An ubertooth (100$) and monitor mode-capable wifi dongle (50$) will teach you more than a thousand Plume adverts.
I suspect many (most?) people may not know they can buy their own modem. Internet providers don't typically advertise that fact, since they'd much rather have the steady income from the modem rental.
A few years later, I was stuck with them again in another state and bought my own from their approved list...then a few months later that model was no longer approved and any issue was blamed on using an unapproved/outdated model.
Every month they would agree to waive the fee and promise to fix it, and every month it would be back on my bill.
This went on for about a year until I cancelled my service, and then they hounded me weekly to "return" the modem.
You get an optical network terminal that converts the fiber to gigabit ethernet (the closest thing to a "modem"), but then you still have to use their router to plug into the ONT, because they use 802.1x auth on the network and the client certs are burned into the router.
You can't put their gateway into a proper bridge mode to use your own router. The best it allows you to do is "passthrough" where it puts a device behind the router in DMZ mode and assigns it the public IP address so it looks like bridged mode. The gateway still maintains its own internal NAT tracking table anyway.
At least they don't charge extra to rent the box.
There’s a hidden page to pass through. It works completely fine in my set up.
(1) I can't afford to outright purchase a product that would normally cost $10,000 so I choose to finance it and pay $12,000 over 5 years (or whatever.)
(2) I could afford to outright purchase a product that would normally cost $100 but instead I have to pay over time, say $500 over 5 years.
It seems to me that a lot of the more recent SaaS stuff is associated with a very large price increase probably because there's no on-prem price to compare to, no stated rate of interest or any of that information you get from a car loan. So I suppose my problem is that the premium on these products is much higher due to obfuscation and these companies (like Plume) don't offer a comparable option to buy outright.
Let's change that instead of pushing the cost on consumers.
A subscription fee for a router that I still need to pay for, on top of the internet that I'm ALREADY paying for? Get outta here. How does it make any sense to charge subscription pricing for hardware that you have to pay upfront for?
$10/month for three units with free hardware upgrades every 3 years (and no upfront cost).
That comes to $120/year, and I don't have to worry about replacing the hardware to get the latest wi-fi standards / features / hardware fixes.
Google wi-fi is $299 for 3 units. Expected life time is 3 years before obsolescence sets in.
I really, really hope that buying the lifetime membership unlocks your pods (or whatever, or however it works) - and that Plume going out of business doesn't fuck you over and lock you into the "free" tier.
However, if this can solve my parents' Wifi problems so they don't have to wait till next Thanksgiving for me to come fix it, I'll totally tell them to sign up for it.
Subscriptions make sense when the cumulative value of the service offered increases over time. Where is the accumulation of value in Plume's offering?
At least your Comcast/AT&T "Wi-Fi Subscription" actually comes with Internet access and rental hardware. Plume is having you buy the hardware and then pay $5/month just for the privilege of keeping the firmware running.
This business model is already the norm for enterprise firewalls and network security appliances, but that's not what Plume is. Plume is just a Mesh network, no different than just meshing a few OpenWRT devices together...
One reason this makes sense for enterprise hardware is that you get a real person on the phone if something goes wrong. I doubt I'd be able to get a Plume representative to help me no matter how many years I subscribe for.