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Google to invest up to $1B in a partnership with Airtel as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund

Google and Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) on Friday announced that they will partner on a long-term, multi-year  agreement to accelerate the growth of India’s digital ecosystem.

Together, they will work to bring best-in-class end-to-end products to serve customer needs, provide quality customer experience, and  bring their expertise to solve problems of affordability, access, and digital inclusion.

As part of this partnership, Google intends to invest up to $1B, 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 the next five  years.

This will comprise: 

● A $700M equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of Rs 734. ● Up to $300M that will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include  investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that covers a range of devices to consumers via  innovative affordability programs as well as other offerings aimed at accelerating access and  digital inclusion across India’s digital ecosystem. 

This deal will be subject to necessary regulatory approvals. 

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. Together, the companies will continue 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.

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. 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.

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