Bharti Airtel and Vi Wi-Fi Joint Venture Might be Sold to Cisco

The Wi-Fi JV has been scouting for investors for the last two to three years. Neither Airtel nor Vodafone Idea wanted to invest fresh funds into their Wi-Fi JV. This is simply because of how fast 4G has arrived in every part of the country. There were no big incentives for either of the telcos to boost the company with fresh investments.

Highlights

  • Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) had started a Wi-Fi joint venture called FireFly Networks.
  • FireFly focuses on providing services to the B2B market.
  • FireFly Wi-Fi points are installed in over 40 cities in 25 states at 650 venues with 10,000 access points.

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Wi-Fi

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) had started a Wi-Fi joint venture called FireFly Networks. The purpose of the JV was to offload mobile networks and promote the use of Wi-Fi in multiple parts of the company. But the business didn’t do much as the expansion of 4G networks happened pretty fast in the country once Jio arrived. Now, an ET Telecom report suggests that Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are thinking of selling the Wi-Fi JV to Cisco. The enterprise value of the business is estimated at Rs 200 crore, and the companies are at advanced stage talks.

Cisco to Retain Management

The report suggests that Cisco will retain the current management of the company with Raj Sethia as the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the company. Sethia is a former Vodafone executive.

The Wi-Fi JV has been scouting for investors for the last two to three years. Neither Airtel nor Vodafone Idea wanted to invest fresh funds into their Wi-Fi JV. This is simply because of how fast 4G has arrived in every part of the country. There were no big incentives for either of the telcos to boost the company with fresh investments.

FireFly focuses on providing services to the B2B market. Bodies such as the Airports Authority of India (AAI), GMR, Supreme Court of India, Fortis and DLF Cyber are some of the partners of the company.

FireFly Wi-Fi points are installed in over 40 cities in 25 states at 650 venues with 10,000 access points. The need for Wi-Fi hotspots is still there, but not at a big intensity. The company claims that it serves over 2.5 million users every day, including 6,00,000 users in 29 different airports in India.

Cisco can ideally take up the company from Airtel and Vodafone Idea and expand the operations of FireFly to more parts of India. Further, this will help Cisco with its private network business in the country.

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