Google will invest up to $1 billion in a partnership with Airtel as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund
Google has announced plans to invest up to $1 billion in a partnership with India’s second-largest mobile network operator Bharti Airtel as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund. The deal will also see the tech giant assume a 1.28% stake in the telecom company.
“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, 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.”
Google’s $1 billion investment will comprise a $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel and up to $300 million that will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which the companies said will help scale Airtel’s offerings and accelerate access and digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem.
Further, the pair want to expand access to smartphones in the country by making them more affordable, as well as bolster India’s cloud ecosystem and “potentially co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards.” Airtel is already using Google’s 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core and Software Defined Network platforms and said that it plans to explore scaling up the deployment of network virtualization solutions.
“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,” commented Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel.
Google has been involved in India’s digitization journey since 2004, when it first opened offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore. In a blog post, Pichai wrote of the internal impact of this work: “Google’s efforts in India have deepened our understanding of how technology can be helpful to all different types of people. Building products for India first has helped us build better products for users everywhere.”