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Google and Airtel partner on broadband services

The telecom company hopes to leverage this relationship to develop specific content and offer advertisers a common platform

Airtel announced on Monday that Google web services will be available to Airtel’s broadband subscribers as a result of an agreement between the two companies. According to the partnership deal, Airtel’s email service will be powered by Gmail. Other Google services such as Google Talk, iGoogle (personalised home page) and Google Docs & Spreadsheets will also be available on Airtel Broadband. Subscribers will also get access to utilities, including security software.

Though the Google services that Airtel Broadband is offering are freely available on the Internet, the telecom company hopes to leverage this relationship to develop specific content and offer advertisers a common platform. Airtel is in the process of creating a Service Delivery Platform (SDP) that will link content providers (Google is one of them) and advertisers to users on the mobile and the web. Airtel plans to eventually add its soon-to-be-launched IPTV services to this platform. Dr Jai Menon, Airtel’s director, IT and innovation, said, “We want our services to be extended to the three screens – web, mobile and interactive television.”

Google and Airtel partner on broadband services
Bindal, Airtel and Rao, Google
Speaking about how the Airtel Broadband platform will be scaled further, Dr Menon said that more products, specifically mobile applications and messaging services, will be announced in the next quarter. He added that Airtel will also develop gadgets or widgets for personalised home pages and will invite third party developers to create similar gadgets. Airtel Broadband currently offers additional services such as music downloads and online gaming to subscribers.

Though the two companies did not disclose the revenue sharing agreement for advertising, Shailesh Rao, managing director, Google India, said, “A lot of Google’s advertisers will be rendered into the Airtel experience.” The companies also said that the focus of these services would be on small businesses and home users.

Google and Airtel had announced an alliance earlier when, in November 2006, Google Search was made available on Airtel’s WAP portal, Airtel Live!

Airtel has 1.97 million fixed line subscribers in 94 cities. Atul Bindal, president, Airtel Broadband & Telephone Services, said that 35 per cent of these subscribers are using broadband services.

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