Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) and Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta” – previously Facebook) today announced a collaboration to support the growth of India’s digital ecosystem. Airtel and Meta will jointly invest in global connectivity infrastructure and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) based new-age digital solutions to support the emerging requirements of customers and enterprises in India.
Foundational connectivity infrastructure such as subsea cable systems are crucial for supporting the rising demand for high-speed data and digital services as India prepares to roll out 5G networks later this year. With the constant endeavor to augment the nation’s infrastructure, Airtel will partner with Meta and STC to extend 2Africa Pearls to India.
2Africa is the world’s longest subsea cable system and is expected to provide faster internet connectivity to almost 3 billion people globally. Airtel and Meta will extend the cable to Airtel’s landing station in Mumbai and also pick up dedicated capacity to further strengthen its submarine network portfolio. The 2Africa cable will significantly boost India’s cable capacity and empower global hyper-scalers and businesses to build new integrated solutions and provide a high-quality seamless experience to customers.
Airtel says the 2Africa cable will significantly boost India’s cable capacity and ‘empower global hyper-scalers and businesses to build new integrated solutions and provide a high-quality seamless experience to customers.’
Facebook/Meta announced it was building out a subsea cable extension called 2Africa Pearls last year, and that it would connect Africa, Europe, and Asia. This new bit of cable brings the total length of the 2Africa system to more than 45,000 kms, which is apparently the longest subsea cable system ever deployed. The goal of the wider project is certainly ambitious – with the addition of Pearls we’re told it will provide connectivity to an additional 1.8 billion people – 3 billion in total.
As members of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open RAN project group, Airtel and Meta have been pioneers of Open RAN technologies with the shared goal of increasing ecosystem diversity, driving innovation, and cost-efficiency in connectivity networks. Airtel has signed an agreement to help increase operational efficiency of Open RAN and facilitate energy management and automation in radio networks using advanced analytics and AI/ML models. Airtel is currently conducting trials for 4G and 5G Open RAN solutions on select sites in the state of Haryana and will commercially deploy the solution across several locations in India over the next few quarters. Airtel will share its learnings with wider ecosystem partners within the TIP community, including Meta, to help accelerate the deployment of Open RAN based networks across the world.
Businesses in India are rapidly shifting to cloud-based solutions to serve their customers digitally. Airtel IQ, the world’s first network embedded Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) ecosystem, offers cloud communication across voice, messaging and video channels to help enterprises transform their customer engagement and drive profitability by leveraging automation and boosting revenue. Airtel will integrate Meta’s WhatsApp within its CPaaS platform. With this integration, businesses will now be able to use WhatsApp’s rich features and reach to provide an unparalleled omni-channel customer engagement to enterprises.
Vani Venkatesh, CEO – Global Business, Bharti Airtel said: “We, at Airtel, are delighted to deepen our partnership with Meta to serve India’s digitally connected economy by leveraging the technology and infrastructure strengths of both companies. With our contributions to the 2Africa cable and Open RAN, we are investing in crucial and progressive connectivity infrastructure which is needed to support the increasing demand for high-speed data in India. We look forward to working closely with Meta to deliver best-in-class digital experiences to our customers in India.”
Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Meta said: “Subsea cables and open, disaggregated networks continue to play a huge role in the foundational infrastructure needed to support network capacity and fuel innovation. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Airtel to further advance the region’s connectivity infrastructure that will enable a better network experience for people and businesses across India.”
About Bharti Airtel:
Headquartered in India, Airtel is a global communications solutions provider with over 500 Mn customers in 17 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks amongst the top three mobile operators globally and its networks cover over two billion people. Airtel is India’s largest integrated communications solutions provider and the second largest mobile operator in Africa. Airtel’s retail portfolio includes high speed 4G/5G mobile broadband, Airtel Xstream Fiber that promises speeds up to 1 Gbps with convergence across linear and on-demand entertainment, streaming services spanning music and video, digital payments and financial services. For enterprise customers, Airtel offers a gamut of solutions that includes secure connectivity, cloud and data centre services, cyber security, IoT, Ad Tech and cloud based communication. For more details, visit www.airtel.com
Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.