Virgin Media Signs WiFi Access Deal with Rival The Cloud (BSkyB) - ISPreview UK
In an unexpected move Virgin Media has today announced a new partnership deal with The Cloud, which is owned by rival BSkyB (Sky Broadband), that allows the national cable operator access to 22,000 additional premium public WiFi hotspots across the United Kingdom.

Under the agreement all of Virgin Media’s Mobile customers will be able to gain access to the network by using the operators “WiFi Buddy App“, which will seamlessly connect to The Cloud’s WiFi hotspots whenever the device is in range. The App authenticates the handset via the SIM card and automatically connects to approved hotspots without the customer needing to provide their details or further information.
Annie Brooks, Director of Mobile at Virgin Media, said:

“We want our customers to have the best possible data connection, wherever they are. Working with The Cloud, Virgin Mobile customers will get WiFi internet access in lots of popular retail stores, bars, hotels, stadiums and other venues across the country. Being able to offer such widespread data connectivity for people while they are on the go is increasingly important, as is ensuring the experience is seamless and simple to use
Roger Matthews, Commercial Director of The Cloud, added:

“This is a key strategic relationship for The Cloud. We have spent the last ten years not only growing our hotspot network but also delivering a great customer experience, consistently achieving the highest customer satisfaction rating versus our competitors. We want to ensure we are a major part of the UK’s expanding mobile ecosystem and partnering with companies like Virgin Media is absolutely vital. This is an exciting time in mobile and we’re pleased to be part of it
The move comes as a surprise because Virgin Media already operate a number of public WiFi networks, such as via the London Underground Stations, and similarly Sky gobbled The Cloud in order to help carve out a piece of that market for itself.

But in this case some of the conflicting interests might be mitigated by the fact that the free access only appears to apply to Virgin Mobile customers and not their cable broadband subscribers, unless of course the subscriber takes both.