BBC signs deal with Wi-Fi operator The Cloud to extend public access to online content
The BBC has become the first UK broadcaster to have all of its online content made available free via Wi-Fi, it was announced today by BBC Director of Future Media & Technology Ashley Highfield.
The non-exclusive venture enables the public to access all bbc.co.uk content for free through the UK's largest network of hotspots, operated by The Cloud.
The 7,500 hotspots are located at a multitude of locations across the UK, including McDonald's, Coffee Republic and BAA airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted), as well as a number of outdoor locations including Canary Wharf and the City of London.
Users will be able to access bbc.co.uk via an interactive video highlighting a range of content available or via a BBC logo, both of which are located on The Cloud's landing site.
Ashley Highfield said: "We're delighted to be partnering with The Cloud in what we hope is the first of many such partnerships across the UK. This is a new environment for the BBC and one which we believe will be hugely important for our future success.
"This venture enables us to offer free Wi-Fi access to BBC content on the high street, furthering the BBC's commitment to make its content as widely available as possible to our audiences wherever they are. For instance, they can catch up on Strictly Come Dancing while having a caffe latte in Coffee Republic."
Owen Geddes, Group Director of Business Development at The Cloud, added: "Wi-Fi is emerging as the technology of choice for media and content owners wanting to extend their reach beyond traditional channels.
"The explosion of media-capable devices, coupled with the high bandwidth and low cost Wi-Fi offers, means high-quality video and audio can be delivered to people wherever they are. The Cloud is leading the market, working with visionary thinkers like the BBC, in bringing content over wireless broadband to the mass market."
In this initial phase, visitors to bbc.co.uk via The Cloud network will be able to view BBC content on all Wi-Fi compatible devices.
However, users will only be able to download programmes from BBC iPlayer via a laptop.
In due course it is expected that the service will be available via mobile phones and other smart handheld devices.