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BT withdraws Wi-Fi access to The Cloud

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BT Openzone customers will next week be cut off from public Wi-Fi provided by The Cloud, and will lose coverage at thousands of hotspots as a result.

A deal between the two firms will come to an end at 9am on October 2, BT told Openzone users in an email. Both home and business broadband subscribers will be affected.

The Cloud told El Reg today that commercial negotiations with BT had failed. It said: "It's disappointing for BT Openzone customers that they will no longer be able to benefit from the convenience of our hotspots - we are disappointed that BT could not reach acceptable commercial terms, though we are certain everyone will understand that our service partners, O2, Orange, AT&T, iPass and many others are happy to do business with The Cloud."

The Wi-Fi operator is offering BT Openzone users 30 days' free Wi-Fi if they take out a subscription.

In its email BT wrote: "It's a decision we haven't made lightly. While we know this affects the Wi-Fi coverage you might be used to, or hotspots you regularly visit, the great news is that because the availability of Wi-Fi from BT has grown significantly in the past year, we don't think you'll be too disadvantaged."

It said customers will still have access to 3,000 UK hotspots, and 40,000 worldwide. The Cloud offers Wi-Fi at train stations, airports, hotels, venues and in city centres. But BT wrote it was "sure you'll be able to find a BT Openzone or other roaming partner hotspot nearby".

BT hasn't returned a call requesting comment on its decision to end the partnership, which was formed in 2005.

Steve Nicholson, CEO of The Cloud, said: "As disappointing as their decision over commercial terms appears, we are reliant on BT for PSTN amongst other services and will continue to work closely in the hope they reconsider their decision for the better of their customers." ®

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