Tech-giant Google partners with Indian telecommunications behemoth Bharti Airtel for creating new and innovative business models that would help grow the Android ecosystem in India. The partnership is a part of Google’s initiative ‘Google for India Digitization Fund’ announced in 2020. Under the partnership, Google plans to invest $1 billion, which includes an investment of $700 million to acquire 1.28% ownership in Airtel (an equity investment) and up to $300 million towards implementing commercial agreements. The tenure of the partnership is around five years.
In plain hindsight, the Google-Airtel partnership will focus on enabling affordable access to smartphones across a wide price range. They would also explore the potential to co-create India-specific network domains and build a use case for 5G, and help accelerate the cloud ecosystem for businesses across the digitally-growing country.
Why Google Is Investing in Airtel
According to an ET Telecom report, Under Google-Airtel commercial agreement, there are exciting possibilities, one of which is to allow Airtel to come up with budget smartphone offers, bundled with new customised software and services that can lure feature phone users to smartphones. The agreement demands Airtel to depend on Google’s hardware partners to enable overall device affordability. Airtel will benefit from Google’s tailored-for-India software solutions.
Airtel and Google would also co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards, with cutting-edge implementations. Airtel is currently using Google’s 5G-ready evolved packet core and software-defined network platforms. The telecom service provider also plans to explore the expansion of Google’s network virtualisation solutions, which would result in delivering a superior network experience to their customers.
There will also be several other offerings aimed at accelerating access and digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem. The fundamental mission is to make the internet more accessible and helpful for Indians. In a blog post, Google also informed that it would work with the Delhi-based telecom company to improve the market situation in India.
India’s feature phone installed base is around 300 million. Converting these many bases to smartphones is aspirational for all telecom players, and Airtel currently has an edge with its partnership with Google.
Google-Airtel deal is currently awaiting regulatory approvals. The deal would be a milestone in the duo’s digital transformation journey.