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Google invests big in India's 5G connectivity

Google will invest USD 1 billion in partnership with Airtel to improve connectivity in India with a special focus on 5G and affordable smartphones, the two companies said in a joint statement.

As part of the deal, Google will invest USD 700 million to acquire a 1.28 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel at a rate of Rs 734 per share. The US-headquartered technology giant will also invest USD 300 million toward potential multi-year commercial agreements.

The statement said that the partnership would enable affordable smartphone access across price ranges. It will continue to explore building on their existing partnerships to potentially co-create India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and other standards and help accelerate the cloud ecosystem for businesses across India.

"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," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in the statement.

"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," Pichai said.

Commenting on the deal, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel, said, "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."

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.


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