IBM To Power Bharti's Telecom Reign In Africa: Gartner Speaks
The strategic partnership will enable Bharti Airtel to scale its network and systems to more than 100 million African customers by 2012.
In a move that will accelerate the transformation of African mobile communications and positively impact the speed of economic development across the African continent, Bharti Airtel Limited and IBM have announced the selection of IBM to manage the computing technology and services that power Bharti Airtel's mobile communications network spanning 16 African countries. An agreement is expected to be finalised in the fourth quarter.
Under the 10-year planned agreement, IBM will consolidate 16 different IT environments across Bharti Airtel's African operations into an integrated IT system and will oversee the management of all of the applications, data center operations, servers, storage and desktop services.
"It seems like a natural extension of their strategic partnership of what they have in India. Bharti has acquired Zain in Africa and they need to provide operational stability to turn the business around. All they wanted was a strategic partnership that can help them transform the back office IT and Network technology," commented Kamlesh Bhatia, Principal Research Analyst, Gartner.
Under a completed agreement, IBM will deploy and manage state-of-the-art information technology infrastructure and applications to support Bharti Airtel's goal of bringing affordable mobile services to remote locations in Africa. In addition, IBM will deploy advanced technologies created by IBM Research, including the Spoken Web a voice-enabled Internet technology that allows users to access and share information simply by talking over an existing telephone.
"For the emerging market voice- based value added services are expected to be an important move to boost non-voice revenues. Africa does have potential as an emerging market, but requires different operational models from what has been implemented in mature markets," said Bhatia.
When the agreement becomes final, IBM will provide customer support applications that include customer relationship management, billing and self-care that will empower customers and assist Bharti Airtel in delivering innovative and convenient 2G and 3G mobile services. In addition, IBM plans to deploy a powerful content management system to offer rich media content such as music and video over mobile devices, while simultaneously facilitating the growth of the application developer community in Africa. The strategic partnership will enable Bharti Airtel to scale its network and systems to more than 100 million African customers by 2012.
"There are huge opportunities throughout Africa to transform how people communicate and how communities interact. Delivering on that opportunity through affordable mobile communications for everyone is our focus," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel. "It will also offer career enhancement opportunities to Bharti Airtel's employees in the IT domain who will now get exposure to global best practices and latest technologies with IBM. More importantly, this alliance underlines our commitment to the growth of Africa's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and contributes towards bridging the digital divide on the continent."
"We see our strategic relationship with Bharti Airtel as a powerful example of building a smarter planet. We have achieved great success together in India, and now we are bringing that model to Africa. By building a 21st century telecommunications infrastructure for the continent – in effect, treating all of Africa as a system of systems – we expect to help spark transformation not just in communications but across all sectors of society – empowering businesses, governments and individual citizens to connect, innovate and achieve economic growth," said Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM.
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