Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, has announced plans to buy UK-based Wi-Fi operator Spectrum Interactive for £23.4 million.

The deal would see Arqiva become the fourth largest Wi-Fi hotspot provider in the UK, with around 15,500 access points. The Spectrum Wi-Fi network currently handles over 1.7 million user sessions at 2,100 locations, including hotels, restaurants, leisure outlets, airports, motorway service stations and public locations on high streets.

Arqiva said that Spectrum Interactive's hotspot network would complement its existing wholesale mobile data business, which involves operating 16,000 mobile masts across the country, as well as its InBuilding neutral host network for landlords and estate owners.

“Uniquely, we would be the only wholesale provider with no associated retail service,” said John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva, commenting on the offer. “We are well placed to help define the Wi-Fi space for all UK landlords and business providers, allowing us to individually tailor services for our customers to meet the growing demand for data capacity.”

The demand for mobile data services is forecast to continue to rise by around 65% per annum between 2011 and 2016, according to Arqiva. The proposed acquisition has been driven by demand from both landlords and mobile operators.

The company said that all employees of Spectrum Interactive will join Arqiva.

“Arqiva’s acquisition of Spectrum Interactive will ensure that our organisation will continue to lead and flourish in what is a highly innovative and competitive market,” said Simon Alberga, executive chairman of Spectrum Interactive. “The board unanimously recommends to shareholders the acquisition of Spectrum Interactive by Arqiva.”

An Arqiva spokesperson said that Arqiva has no intention of running a branded public Wi-Fi network, like The Cloud or BT Openzone (now known simply as “BT Wi-Fi”). Instead, it will continue with Spectrum Interactive's strategy of offering white label services to customers such as Premier Inn and Travelodge.