BSkyB buys The Cloud

The media giant has acquired the public Wi-Fi provider, picking up more than 5,000 hotspots to back up its Sky Mobile TV and Sky Broadband services

BSkyB has purchased public Wi-Fi provider The Cloud to strengthen its multimedia content delivery, the media company confirmed in an earnings announcement.

The deal — which the Financial Times reported was completed for less than £50m — will see BSkyB take control of The Cloud's network of public Wi-Fi hotspots, in a bid to support its aligned content and Wi-Fi services. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval from Jersey, where The Cloud recently signed a deal with Jersey Telecom.

BSkyB offices

BSkyB has announced the acquisition of The Cloud Wi-Fi network. Photo credit: Maxwell Hamilton

"To support our mobile content activities, today we are announcing the acquisition [of The Cloud]... It gives us ownership of over 5,000 public Wi-Fi locations across the UK, ensuring that customers can access our online service at a network of convenient locations," BSkyB said in its second-half financials announcement on Thursday.

As well as supporting Sky Mobile TV, the Cloud acquisition will also allow BSkyB to offer its residential broadband customers access to Wi-Fi hotspots while on the move as part of a package.

BT already allows its home broadband customers to use its Openzone and BT Fon hotspots for free. Before 2008, BT customers had access to The Cloud's hotspots, but the companies ended their partnership after failing to reach an agreement over commercial terms.

In its second-half results, BSkyB said that its broadband business had seen its highest growth in two years. Added to strong growth across its range of products, this helped propel the media company to revenue of £3.2bn, a 15 percent rise year-on-year.

"We have exceeded three million broadband customers after achieving our highest growth for 10 quarters," BSkyB said in its financial statement.

The media giant joins another company moving into the Wi-Fi hotspot market — mobile operator O2, which on Wednesday announced that it is launching a nationwide network of Wi-Fi hotspots that will be free to customers and non-customers.

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