Saturday, May 21, 2022

Google will invest up to $1 billion in Airtel, to work together on India-specific 5G use cases

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Airtel and Google are entering into a long-term, multi-year agreement to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem. As part of this partnership, Google is looking to invest up to $1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes equity investment as well as a corpus for potential commercial agreements, that are yet to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the duration of the next five years.

The investment involves a $700 million equity investment in Bharati Airtel at a price per share of 734 INR to acquire a 1.28% ownership in the Sunila Mittal-led telecom operator. Google had invested 33,737 crore INR for 7.73% in Reliance Jio platforms, the parent company of Jio.

Nearly up to $300 million will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that cover a range of devices to consumers through innovative affordability programs as well as other offerings aimed at accelerating access and digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem.

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Both the organizations have agreed to jointly explore and invest across a wide spectrum of areas to create digital solutions that are unique to India’s requirements.

As part of its first commercial, Airtel and Google will work jointly to build on Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers through innovative affordability programs.

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Jointly, the companies will continue to explore further opportunities to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across different price points, in collaboration with multiple device manufacturers.

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Under the larger strategic goals of the partnership, both the companies will also potentially 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 and Software Defined Network platforms and plans to explore scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualization solutions to deliver an amazing network experience to their user-base.

Both the companies will also focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. Airtel serves over a million small and medium businesses with its enterprise connectivity offering, and this partnership will assist in accelerating digital adoption.

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Sunil Mittal, Chairman of Airtel said, “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.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google said, “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.”

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