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The Cloud targets UK with city centre Wi-Fi hotspots

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Nine UK city centres are to get blanket wireless broadband coverage as part of a deal between Wi-Fi operator The Cloud and telecoms giant BT.

About 500 BT payphones in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool, as well as in the London Boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Camden and Islington, are to be fitted with discrete WiFi boxes to create a "cloud" of coverage.

As part of the deal, both The Cloud and BT will share the revenue generated by these hotspots.

At the moment, The Cloud's Wi-Fi kit is installed in places such as pubs, coffee shops and train stations, but this is the first time it has attempted to bring wireless broadband to urban areas on such a scale.

The Cloud's network will be available immediately to punters who use BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones and Nintendo Wi-Fi.

The Cloud's chief exec, George Polk, said: "In 2004, we built the largest hotspot network in Europe, but this is the first time anyone has brought wireless internet access to the UK public on this scale.

"As the only large-scale neutral operator in the UK, we are the only partner with the technical and financial resources to build and operate a reliable network."

The Cloud - which has some 6,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, Sweden and Germany - also said today that it is keen to hook up with local councils to expand its network still further. ®

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