With the pandemic spurring an undeniable urgency to ‘go digital’, entire sectors like education, payments, and retail have undergone radical changes: foundational connectivity and equitable access to crucial online services are now no longer optional – they are lifeblood. It is this bedrock upon which many across the ecosystem have managed to adapt and tide over the challenges from the past year and a half.
At Google we have long worked on efforts aimed at accelerating digital adoption in the country, from collaborating with organizations to help make the internet more accessible, to making our products and experiences work effectively across India’s many languages. We deepened this commitment in 2020 when we announced the Google for India Digitization Fund, where we pledged to address key areas of the country’s rapidly-changing digital landscape: enabling more affordable access to the internet for every Indian, building new experiences that answer India’s unique needs, empowering businesses of all sizes as they make their digital transformation journey, and using the power of AI to tackle big social challenges.
Continuing to invest in India’s digital journey
Connecting India’s 1.3 billion people to the power of the Internet needs a multi-pronged strategy; one that involves investing in future-ready mobile networks and use cases, bringing a greater range and choice of affordable smartphones that cater to the different needs of users, helping small businesses to digitize at a faster clip, and assisting them to adopt digital tools that can accelerate their digital transformations.
Over the last several years, Bharti Airtel has played a pivotal role in enabling connectivity and supporting a strong digital ecosystem to help Indians and small businesses gain from the benefits of digital transformation. We’re inspired by their vision and plans across these areas, where teams across Google have already been partnering with Airtel to bring innovative digital services and solutions to cater to the needs of India.
Today, we are excited to share that we are making an investment in Bharti Airtel as part of the Google for India Digitization Fund, which will include a $700M equity investment and a corpus of up to $300M that will go towards implementing mutually agreed commercial initiatives over the course of the next five years.
As a part of our first commercial agreement under this deal, we will work to scale Airtel’s extensive offerings that cover a range of devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs. Under the larger strategic goals of the collaboration, both companies will also plan to co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards, and also focus on shaping and growing the cloud ecosystem in India by helping accelerate the digital transformation journeys of small and medium businesses across the country.
With this partnership, we are excited about creating new and innovative business models to help grow the Android OEM ecosystem in India. In the last two years, we have made steady progress on the goals we set to achieve with the Google for India Digitization fund, from building an India-focused Android experience for the country’s new internet users, to partnering with companies that are deeply vested in bringing the richness of the internet to people through localized content experiences. These joint efforts will continue to be a strategic area of focus for Google as we work to make the Internet more accessible and helpful for over a billion Indians.