New Delhi, January 29, 2022: Indian telecom provider Bharti Airtel and Google have announced a long-term, multi-year agreement to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem
As part of this partnership, Google will 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, to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the course of the next five years. This will comprise:
A $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of INR 734 ( representing 1.28% ownership)and
Up to $300 million that will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that covers 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.
As a part of its first commercial agreement, Airtel and Google will work together to build on Airtel’s extensive offerings that covers a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs. Together, the companies will continue to explore further opportunities to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across a range of price points, in partnership with various device manufacturers.
Both 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 & Software Defined Network platforms, and plans to explore scaling up the deployment of Google’s network virtualisation solutions to deliver a superior network experience to their customers.
In 2020, Google invested $4.5 billion in Reliance Jio. While that partnership seemed aimed at growing the business at the consumer end –through joint development of the already launched affordable JioPhoneNext smart phone, the Airtel pact is likely more focused on the enterprise end of the business.