Bharti Airtel taps up Google Cloud for GenAI push

India's Bharti Airtel has recruited Google Cloud to help it go after the generative AI (GenAI) market, and by extension grab a bigger slice of the burgeoning public cloud sector.

Nick Wood

May 13, 2024

3 Min Read

Under the long-term strategic partnership, they will develop a bunch of AI/ML solutions that Airtel can train on its large data set.

In fact, they have already unveiled the first three offerings they plan to launch.

First up is a geospatial analytics solution with advanced location intelligence that can be used for trend-spotting, unspecified 'predictive capabilities', market assessment, site selection, risk management, and asset tracking.

Then there is a voice analytics solution that can support multi-lingual conversational applications – presumably this means AI-powered chatbots, which is no mean feat in a country with 23 official languages.

Finally, Google and Airtel will also co-develop marketing tech that can predict consumer behaviour, segment audiences, and streamline content creation with what Airtel claims will be high-precision contextual ads.

In addition to all the AI stuff, Airtel has also developed an end-to-end IoT offering pitched at the utility sector. It's light on detail at this point, but Airtel said it combines connectivity, Google Cloud services, and applications, and will enable seamless, hassle-free, and fast deployment of whatever it is this solution does. Monitoring things is probably a fairly safe bet.

These various new services will be offered to Airtel's customer base of more than 2,000 large enterprises and 1 million smaller businesses. Its ultimate aim is to capitalise on India's growing public cloud services market, which according to IDC, is expected to turn over $17.8 billion by 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.9%.

To help it deliver on its ambition, Airtel has established a managed services centre in Pune staffed with more than 300 experts whose job will be to sell Google Cloud services.

"As India accelerates its digital transformation, cutting-edge cloud and AI solutions will be at the heart and centre of this change," said Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal. "We are happy to partner with Google Cloud and jointly address this market opportunity with secure and scalable cloud solutions for government, enterprises, and emerging businesses. Together, we will also accelerate the deployment of Gen AI in the country and unlock its potential to solve problems."

Scoring a deal with one of India's biggest telcos is a boon for Google Cloud, which is competing with its main rivals, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, for a slice of that $17.8 billion.

It operates two cloud regions in India – one in Mumbai that has been up and running since 2017, and another in Delhi that went live in 2021. In terms of availability, that puts Google on more or less level pegging with AWS – which has regions in Mumbai and Pune – and Microsoft, which is in Pune, Chennai, and has another region currently under construction in Hyderabad.

"Our strategic collaboration with Airtel marks a significant milestone towards our commitment to accelerate cloud and AI adoption in India," said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. "Through this partnership, we aim to explore and build transformative solutions that can enhance Airtel's customer experiences."

Indeed, Airtel is also tapping up Google Cloud to overhaul its customer touchpoints across its portfolio of mobile, broadband, and digital TV services. It will also leverage Google Cloud to streamline its internal processes and operations.

All in all, this is a comprehensive cloud deal and a big win for Google.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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