Google to Invest up to $1bn in Airtel to Boost India Digitalization

India’s second-ranking mobile-phone operator Bharti Airtel announced Thursday that it would receive a $ 1billion investment from Google as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund.  

As such, the investment includes an equity investment and a range for commercial agreements during the next five years, while Google will make a $700 million equity investment to acquire 1.28 percent ownership in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of $9.78.  

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel, said that the mobile operator “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.”  

In addition, the commercial agreements will be settled depending on mutually agreeable terms during the next five years, the companies said in a statement.  

The announcement was made after the Airtel Board approved the proposal on Friday. Airtel’s shares were up 0.7 percent at ₹711.95 on the Bombay Stock Exchange at 9:40 morning hours. 

In parallel, the companies will continue to discover additional opportunities to bring down the obstacles of owning a smartphone across various price points, they added in partnership with multiple device manufacturers.  

Also, the commercial agreement includes building Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs.  

“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,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.  

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.  

They acknowledge the importance of a connected India to enable businesses to progress on their Digital Transformation journeys and build a solid digital ecosystem for consumers everywhere.   

Both organizations are committed to building an open technology ecosystem that serves customers and businesses with innovative digital services and agreed to explore together and invest across a broad spectrum of areas to create digital solutions that uniquely help India’s requirements.  

Last but not least, Airtel is using Google’s 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core & Software Defined Network platforms and will explore mounting the deployment of Google’s network virtualization solutions to deliver a superior network experience to their customers.