Google To Invest $1 Billion In Airtel; Together They’re Set To Expand India’s Digital Dividend, Co-Create India-Specific 5G Use Cases

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When India’s fastest telecom service joins hands with the world’s biggest tech giant, the prospects are exciting and endless. Especially in India, where the promise of digitization is booming. In a bid to bolster India’s digital footprint, Google and Airtel are coming together to pave the way, by offering digital solutions that are unique to India’s requirements, and fostering the cloud ecosystem. As a part of its Google for India Digitization Fund and said partnership, the Sundar Pichai-led company will invest a handsome $1 billion into Bharti Airtel.

The mutual, long-term agreement is said to include a $700M equity investment at a share price of 1.28% (Rs. 734) and a corpus of up to $300M that will go towards implementing mutually agreed commercial initiatives over the next five years. And this is just a part of the pledged ₹75,000 crores ($10 billion approx.) that Google committed back in June 2020 to digitize the Indian economy.

Innovative Affordability Program

Through this partnership, Airtel and Google are determined to facilitate a greater range and choice of affordable smartphones that cater to the different needs of users. Whether it is helping small businesses to adopt digital tools that can accelerate their digital transformations or enabling connectivity to bolster the benefits of digital transformation, the goal is to help India adapt to the changing, COVID-19 stricken times.

With this, Airtel’s already existing offerings, such as enterprise connectivity services, are set to expand to small and medium businesses. Additionally, the partnership intends to build a strong digital ecosystem for individuals and businesses, and improve digital inclusions through affordable programs and solutions, devised specifically for the Indian audience.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti 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.”

Foster Cloud Ecosystem

The partnership also aims to create new offerings that can accelerate access to networks and enhance the cloud ecosystem. Additionally, it strives to reach rural India, with Google planning to leverage AI (Artificial Intelligence) to support economies and help the masses with the right digital tools.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, pointed out how “Airtel is a superior giant that contributes to shaping India’s digital future, and we are proud to collaborate for expanding connectivity and ensuring equitable access to the Internet for more Indians as we share the same vision and goals.”

“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,” he added.

The alliance also promises to improve the performance of the existing 4G network, and create and distribute 5G networks at a time when India needs it the most.

Co-create India-Specific 5G Use Cases

Both companies share a vision for implementing India-specific network domain 5G use cases through the latest, cutting-edge technology. With Airtel currently using Google’s software Defined Network platforms and 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core, the company now looks forward to scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualization solutions to provide the highest quality network to its customers.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as Airtel has already made immense progress in India’s 5G journey. Back in 2018, it became the first telecom company to test 5G technology and since then, has conducted several successful live Airtel 5G live tests across the country. Airtel has also collaborated with tech companies including Intel, Qualcomm, TCS to spearhead the evolution that has taken the country to greater heights. With the promise of super-high speeds, low latency, and higher bandwidth, sectors like business, edu-tech, and even gaming/entertainment stand to grow by leaps.

In 2021 Airtel held India’s first Cloud gaming experience demonstration on a live 5G network with ace gamers Mortal and Mamba. And the verdict? High-end PC and console-quality gaming experience but on a smartphone!

Something tells us that the Airtel-Google partnership is the beginning of exciting new developments in India and it’s ever growing tech-savvy population.





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