Leading Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel has engaged in discussions with search engine colossus Google about the possibility of collaborating together in order to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots in strategic locations across the country in an effort to improve its broadband coverage.
Reports emerging from India claim that initial talks have already taken place between the two organizations with Bharti Airtel expressing its desire to utilize Google Station - which is a public Wi-Fi project launched by the company in 2016. Indian Railways and its communications arm Rail-Tel has already agreed a partnership agreement with Google to deploy hotspots across railway stations in the country.
Google has previously announced its intentions to expand the connectivity beyond train stations and has indicated its plans to target shopping centers, coffee shops and universities. The head of Google India, Gulzar Azad has confirmed that the company is actively engaged in talks with the country’s service providers in its attempt to forge multiple partnerships.
Bharti Airtel has declined to comment on its talks with Google, but it has been claimed that the operator is looking to boost its Wi-Fi services to offload traffic being generated from its cellular network to reduce the investment required to expand capacity of its base stations. The market leader has faced increasing pressure and competition in the sector and has intensified immeasurably since the emergence of 4G operator Reliance Jio. In order to combat the onslaught, Airtel is taking steps to improve coverage and retain and grow its subscription base.
Airtel has already entered into a collaboration agreement with Facebook on Wi-Fi deployments. Facebook commercialized its Express Wi-Fi service in India last month – and has plans to deploy an additional 20,000 hotspots all over the country in partnership with the mobile operator. In addition to this, Facebook also confirmed partnerships with Indian Railways to improve Wi-Fi access in many of the country’s rural railway stations.