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Google to invest USD1B to push India’s digitalisation

NEW DELHI (AP) – Google will invest up to USD1 billion in partnership with India’s Airtel to provide affordable access to smartphones to over a billion Indians and speed up use of cloud-based computing for business, the two companies said yesterday.

The investment will help India’s small businesses adopt digital tools as India works to adopt digital education, payments and e-commerce amid the pandemic, Google said in a blog post.

As part of the “Google for India Digitisation Fund” launched in 2020, Google will pay USD700 million to acquire a 1.28 per cent stake in Airtel. It is also committing up to USD300 million for commercial agreements over the next five years, Airtel said in a statement.

The companies also plan to jointly develop software for 5G and other standards, it said.

Airtel is an Indian global communications solutions provider with over 480 million customers in 17 countries across South Asia and Africa.

Google’s services are accessed by over 100 million users in India. It has faced legal troubles with the Competition Commission of India which said the company has abused the dominant position of its Android system in the Smart TV market segment. Regulators contend that makers of Smart TVs have no alternative to Android and are therefore obliged to install Google’s apps.

Google has denied any violations, saying its licencing practices comply with the law.