BSkyB buys The Cloud for less than £50m

UK Satellite broadcaster BSkyB has acquired Wi-Fi operator The Cloud.

The deal, which is reported in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal to have cost less than £50 million, is the latest move on behalf of the company which is part-owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, to spread its programming outside the home.

Announced just a day after O2 said it would be building on its existing The Cloud network, the revelation has caused some confusion but a quick call to O2's press office clarified the situation... sort of.

As we understand it, BSkyB will own the infrastructure and will allow its subscribers access, but O2 and its existing customers, as well as anyone else on any other network, will still be able to use the public hotspots which are found in hamburger chains, larger pubs and even football stadiums.

Asked directly if a customer who currently has access to free Wi-Fi via The Cloud in his local McDonalds would still have the same access after the acquisition, the O2 spokeswoman said, "As I understand it, yes."

The Cloud, which launched in 2003, was worth £17.1 million at the end of 2009.

Murdoch's News Corp, which currently owns 39.1 per cent of BSkyB, desperately wants to buy the whole kit and kaboodle but has been plagued by politicians like the recently-sacked Vince Cable and Freudian-slip-waiting-to-happen Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt who seem to be doing everything in their power to stop the Aussie-born media megalomaniac building his empire.

Sky signed up its 10 millionth customer in November last year