Wi-Fi operator The Cloud expected to be bought by BSkyB
BSkyB are looking into competing with BT on Wi-Fi are reportedly expected to announce a deal to buy Wi-Fi operator The Cloud, later this week. The Cloud are a direct competitor with BT Openzone, BT's Wi-Fi service which has over 2 million hotspots across the UK. The vast majority of these are BT users who have their BT Home Hub or BT Business Hub enabled as an Openzone hotspot. Around 3,900 (in November 2010) were specifically deployed Openzone hotspots.
In contrast, The Cloud operate over 22,000 access points across Europe, and opening this up to Sky broadband customers could prove a great value-added extra. Of course, Sky would also have the option then to vastly increase this network by deploying a similar system to BT where broadband users can turn their router into a publicly available wireless access point to help expand the network.
The Cloud have been linked with further expansions and possibly a complete roll-out across London which Mayor Boris Johnson has talked about. By using users' broadband connections to fill in much of this coverage could help with this network, although it may prove a bit 'patchy' in comparison to a dedicated network.
Virgin Media also announced that they were exploring the roll-out of a public Wi-Fi network last year to rival BT Openzone, but the company were planning a slightly different model that would see the green cabinets at the side of the road as Wi-Fi access points.