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Google invests $1 billion in Airtel: what the deal entails, the companies’ strategic goals

Google has announced an investment of up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel. What does the deal entail? Are Google and Airtel also working on 5G? What have been Google’s previous investments in India?

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
January 28, 2022 12:25:56 pm
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 programmes.

American internet giant Google has announced an investment of up to $1 billion in partnership with Delhi-based telecom company Bharti Airtel. This includes a $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel for a 1.28 per cent stake, and up to $300 million towards potential multi-year commercial agreements.

What have been Google’s previous investments in India?

In addition to the latest investment in Airtel, Google has also invested in the telecom company’s rival Reliance Jio a sum of $4.5 billion. Further, Google has backed more than a dozen startups in India through its accelerator programme.

What does the deal with Airtel entail?

Google said it intends to 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 five years. This will comprise the $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of Rs 734 (the scrip opened trading on Friday at Rs 718 on the BSE), and up to $300 million that will go towards implementing commercial agreements.

What do these commercial agreements include?

According to a statement, 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 programmes. The companies will also work 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. Notably, Jio, in partnership with Google last year, launched an affordable 4G device.

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Are Google and Airtel also working on 5G?

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.

Under the larger strategic goals of the partnership, both companies will also potentially co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards, with cutting-edge implementations, the statement said, adding that both Airtel and Google will also focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India.

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