Public WiFi technology is gaining in strategic importance due to the explosion in demand for high performance uncongested broadband data access outside the home and office.  As mobile and tablet devices are capturing more and more of content distribution, universal access to broad band becomes paramount.  In the latest development a content provider, in this case BSkyB, felt it was important to own the hotspots that are deployed in key geographic locations, thus enhancing distribution.

BSkyB said it had bought The Cloud, a WiFi provider, for less than £50m (approx. 2 x revenue).  The acquisition provides Sky with 5,000 UK WiFi hot spots, enabling the company to offer new services to its broadband and TV customers.  

The Cloud is Europe’s leading independent public WiFi operator, with a market-leading managed and hospitality services platform in the UK and Germany including venues such as Pret A Manger, McDonalds and Wetherspoons. Sky is in a strong position to leverage The Cloud through accelerated expansion of the public WiFi footprint and by extending The Cloud’s offering to Sky’s existing customers, enabling high-speed broadband access outside the home. 

The Cloud was launched in 2003 at the tail end of the dotcom bust.  It quickly evolved from an indoor hotspot provider into the market leading European public access provider of Wi-Fi services.  It made its mark by wiring up the City of London and other European cities.  Source:  Financial Times and Arma Partners