Airtel and Google to scale India’s digital ecosystem

Airtel and Google to scale India’s digital ecosystem

Sundar Pichai Google.png

Bharti Airtel (Airtel) and Google are to partner on a long-term, multi-year agreement to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem.

The two will work together to give customers end-to-end products in line with their needs, provide improved customer experience, and leverage their combined expertise to solve problems of affordability, access and digital inclusion.

“Airtel and Google share the vision to grow India’s digital dividend through innovative products," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel.

"With our future ready network, digital platforms, last mile distribution and payments ecosystem, we look forward to working closely with Google to increase the depth and breadth of India’s digital ecosystem.”

Google plans to invest up to $1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes equity investment as well as potential commercial agreements, that will be selected and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the next five years.

This plan is broken down into a $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of INR 734 ($9.77).

A maximum of $300 million will be spent on fulfilling commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings.

“Airtel is a leading pioneer shaping India’s digital future, and we are proud to partner on a shared vision for expanding connectivity and ensuring equitable access to the Internet for more Indians,” said Sundar Pichai (pictured), CEO of Google and Alphabet.

“Our commercial and equity investment in Airtel is a continuation of our Google for India Digitization Fund's efforts to increase access to smartphones, enhance connectivity to support new business models, and help companies on their digital transformation journey.”

As a part of its first commercial agreement, the two will build on Airtel’s offerings that covers a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via affordability programs. In addition, the two will explore ways to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across a range of price points, in partnership with various device manufacturers.

Further both companies will potentially co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards. At present, Airtel is uses Google’s 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core & Software Defined Network platforms and plans to explore scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualisation solutions.

Lastly, both companies will also focus on evolving the cloud ecosystem in India to accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

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