Google is investing $1 billion in Airtel to boost India's 'digital ecosystem'

Airtel Store
Airtel Store (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google plans to invest up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel as part of the "Google for India" digitization fund.
  • The two companies will work together to enable affordable access to smartphones and create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G.
  • Google had invested $4.5 billion in Reliance-owned Jio Platforms in 2020.

Google on January 28 announced that it would be making an investment of $1 billion in Bharti Airtel over the next five years. The investment will be part of the search giant's "Google for India" digitization fund.

While Google will be spending $700 million to pick up a 1.28% stake in Airtel, it will invest up to $300 million on potential multi-year commercial initiatives. Bharti Airtel is currently India's second-largest carrier, with over 355 million subscribers. It is also among the top players in India's broadband market.

As part of the deal, Google and Bharti Airtel will work together to "bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone" across various price points, in partnership with popular Android OEMs. The two companies are also expected to collaborate on "India-specific domain use cases for 5G and other standards."

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said in a statement:

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.

It is worth noting that Airtel already uses Google's 5G-ready Evolved Packet Core & Software Defined Network platforms. To promote digital adoption in the country, both companies will also focus on popularizing the cloud ecosystem.

This isn't the first time that Google has invested in an Indian carrier. Back in July 2020, Google invested $4.5 billion into India's Jio Platform for a 7.7% stake in the company. Social networking giant Facebook has also invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms with an aim to turn its popular messaging app WhatsApp into an "e-commerce platform."

Babu Mohan
News Writer