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BBC online to be free through Wi-Fi hotspots

The service will initally be offered only on laptops, but the BBC wants it to extend to mobile devices

Access to the BBC's online services will be made free of charge through thousands of wireless hotspots. A deal with hotspot provider The Cloud means that all the corporation's services will be available across 7,500 sites.

Users will be able to access BBC News or even stream TV shows via the BBC's iPlayer service. Earlier today the corporation announced that it will broaden the service to Mac and Linux users via the use of Adobe's Flash technology.

No subscription required

The deal with The Cloud is about new ways to distribute content, said Ashley Highfield, the BBC's director of Future Media and Technology.

"For us, the killer is there is no subscription required. You will be able to consume any of the content on; watch an episode of Strictly Come Dancing with your coffee, or if you are pressed for time, download it and watch it later," he told BBC News.

Although it will only initially be available via laptops, the BBC hopes to make its services available on mobile devices within hotspots, too.

"This is the first of what I hope will be a number of relationships with Wi-Fi operators," said Highfield.