Google backs Indian digital ecosystem with $1bn investment in Airtel

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Bharti Airtel image
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The tech giant, Google has entered into a long-term, multi-year agreement with Bharti Airtel, one of India’s premier communications solutions providers, to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem.

Both parties will work to bring best-in-class end-to-end products to serve customer demands, improve customer experience quality, and bring their expertise to solve problems of affordability, access, and digital inclusion.

As part of this partnership, Google plans to invest up to $1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes an equity investment and a corpus for potential commercial agreements, to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the course of the next five years.

The investment includes a $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of $9.8 and up to $300 million towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that cover a range of devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs as well as other offerings aimed at accelerating access and digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem.

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai

“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. 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.”

The two organizations recognized the importance of a connected India, in empowering businesses as they progress on their Digital Transformation journeys, and building a strong digital ecosystem for consumers everywhere. They are committed to jointly exploring and investing across a wide spectrum of areas to create digital solutions that uniquely serve India’s requirements.

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

The partnership will also co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards, with cutting-edge implementations. Airtel is already using Google’s 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core & Software Defined Network platforms and plans to explore scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualization solutions to deliver a superior network experience to its customers.

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