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BSkyB reels in Wi-Fi network operator The Cloud

Buys hotspot specialist, bigs up growing broadband customer base

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BSkyB confirmed this morning that it bought Wi-Fi hotspot provider The Cloud Networks Ltd earlier this month for an undisclosed sum.

It said the deal was subject to regulatory clearance in Jersey, where The Cloud recently inked a partnership with Jersey Telecom.

Sky said it has bought The Cloud to beef up its mobile content portfolio.

"The acquisition gives us ownership of over 5,000 public Wi-Fi locations across the UK, ensuring that customers can access our online service at a network of convenient locations," it said in a statement.

"In addition, the initiative will complement our existing broadband services by offering customers a comprehensive option for Wi-Fi connectivity while they are on the move."

It said that The Cloud had gross assets of £17.1m as of 31 December 2009.

Sky, which also issued its second quarter report to the City today, saw a better-than-expected 40 per cent increase in net profit in part, it said, due to the company's 10 million-strong customer base.

It claimed the "fastest broadband growth in 10 quarters with 204,000 net additions".

For the three months ended 31 December 2010, Sky posted net profit of £179m, up from £128m for the same period a year earlier.

Profit before tax was £237m on Q2 sales of £1.66bn for the quarter, compared to revenues of £1.44bn and pre-tax profit of £134m in the same period in 2009. The full results can be viewed here (pdf).

Sky rival O2 took the opportunity to roll out a classic "we welcome competition, but we're still better than you" statement today.

"As a pioneer of Wi-Fi in the UK, we welcome new entrants to the Wi-Fi market - increased competition can only be a good thing for the consumer," said O2 Wi-Fi managing director Gavin Franks.

"For too long, public Wi-Fi has fallen short of consumers' needs and expectations. That's why we are creating a Wi-Fi network that is three times faster than most, requires one sign-up, and is open to absolutely everyone for free." ®

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