Flume lights up dark fiber to bring fast internet to more people – TechCrunch

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Flume Internet

It’s the darnest thing — in major cities, around 30% of homes have a fiber cable running past the house due to a local cell site or enterprise customer, but a bunch of humans are still on dial-up speeds. Flume Internet is tapping into the under-used fiber capacity in order to make high-speed internet available to more people — including the New York Housing Authority, its partner for bringing high-speed internet to populations that traditionally have been low priority for telcos.

The company’s aim is to use its asset-light approach and scale into more than 20 markets in the next few years with infrastructure partners and asset owners. A large part of its mission is to connect under-connected neighborhoods. The company’s anchor customer in New York is NYCHA with hundreds of homes connected to Flume via the government’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The company has seen rapid growth coming out of the pandemic as many cities and apartment building owners want cheaper, high-speed options. A major part of their vision is to accelerate fiber builds across the remaining 60% of residences in the country in a carrier-neutral manner.

The company suggests that only around 9% of homes have an option for true fiber to the home — in other words, that the entire network between your home and the provider’s data center is fiber.

Flume has developed a compact edge data center that enables it to serve thousands of gigabit customers out of a single rack of data center space. They use this technology to map out and power broadband over unused or “dark” fiber cables in cities around the U.S. to bring home broadband options to residences and apartment buildings at a fraction of the cost. The company claims that most cities have 10-15 unused fibers for every residential building. Its aim is to be the largest fiber ISP in the U.S. that still controls the packet path from the end consumer to the data center, i.e. not buying or reselling last-mile traffic.

Flume lit up $3.5 million worth of funding late last year, but decided to announce the round now. Amplo and Hyperplane.vc co-led the round, with involvement from the Citi Impact Fund and The Fund NY.

The company’s service is now available in ‘thousands’ of homes, and its plan is to be available in 20,000+ homes by the end of the year.