BSkyB is to buy Wi-Fi provider The Cloud, according to unnamed sources cited by Murdoch rag The Sunday Times.
The news is expected to be announced by BSkyB later this week, reports the UK newspaper.
If successful in its acquisition of The Cloud, BSkyB would instantly be able to launch a major competitor to BT’s Openzone, which has over two million hotspots in the UK. The Cloud’s presence in the UK isn’t quite reaching those numbers but there’s plenty of room for expansion.
For example, The Cloud is the company that has been in discussions with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, about introducing a London-wide Wi-Fi network in time for the 2012 Olympics.
This is a potential goldmine opportunity which BSkyB could take, providing BT doesn’t make a similar bid to roll out the new London network.
The Cloud was launched in 2003 and has become one of the leading Wi-Fi providers in Europe, with a network of over 22,000 access points, all having a minimum of 8Mb/s DSL, a core network available of 99 percent, and an average download speed of 3.5Mb/s across the lot of it. Couple that with The Cloud’s large userbase and BSKyB has plenty of reasons to consider the takeover.
While the news is not confirmed yet by BSkyB, it’s interesting to note that the parent company of The Sunday Times, News Corp, has a 39.1 percent stake in BSkyB and is attempting to buy the remaining 60.9 percent, providing it receives approval from telecommunications regular Ofcom.
The shared link with News Corp is likely to be how this information was obtained. Financial figures for the rumoured buyout are not yet known.