Boingo Wireless acquires Cloud Nine for ad-funded Wi-Fi access

The service provider sees ad-sponsored free Wi-Fi access becoming more common in the future

Wi-Fi service provider Boingo Wireless has acquired Cloud Nine Media, which offers ad-supported access to Wi-Fi hotspots, it said on Wednesday.

Boingo didn't announce any financial details of the deal, but said the reasoning behind it is that sponsored Wi-Fi access is a growth area and by acquiring Cloud Nine it gets the necessary know-how and technology to take advantage of that opportunity.

Cloud Nine's network consists of 6,000 locations, including 4,500 hotels, 475 restaurants and 8 airports in the U.S. and Canada.

In exchange for accessing one of Cloud Nine's locations for free, users are first connected to a start page that shows who the sponsor is and after clicking on the connect button they have to watch an ad before being able surf, according to demos shown on Cloud Nine's website.

Google, AOL, Amazon and Symantec are among the companies that have advertised on Cloud Nine's network. Campaigns can be targeted by venue type, audience segment or location, according to Boingo.

The concept of sponsored networks isn't new for the Wi-Fi service provider. In June, Boingo announced that New Yorkers would be able to access its network of hotspots for free thanks to a deal with Google.

For users that don't want to sit through ads, Boingo offers unlimited Wi-Fi access for US$9.95 per month in North and South America. Its network consists of approximately 500,000 hotspots across the world.

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