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Google to invest up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel

The pair aims to use the partnership to help lift India's digital adoption levels.
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Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Senior Journalist on

Bharti Airtel has announced that Google will invest up to $1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitalisation Fund, in the Indian telco.

The investment will comprise $700 million to acquire a 1.28% stake in Airtel and up to $300 million towards potential multi-year commercial agreements to bolster the telco's digital offerings.  

One of the first commercial agreements, according to the telco, will see the pair work together to build on Airtel's range of Android-enabled consumer devices, and remove barriers of owning a smartphone by working with various device manufacturers.

Both companies will also explore the possibility of co-creating India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards. At the same time, there are plans to grow the cloud ecosystem in India to help local businesses accelerate digital adoption and explore scaling up the deployment of Google's network virtualisation 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," Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said on Friday.

This latest investment deal comes off the back of a long-standing relationship between the two companies. In 2013, the pair teamed up to provide Bharti Airtel customers in India access to Google online products for free.

Google's ties to India were further cemented when it announced its $10 billion investment in the country's digitalisation over the next five to seven years under its Google for India Digitalisation Fund.

"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," Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

 "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."

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