Bharti looks to Korea for inspiration

Bharti Airtel might be involved in a drawn-out mobile slugfest with Jio, but a partnership with SK Telecom could offer a bit of breathing room for the under-pressure operator.

The partnership will work across several areas including developing bespoke software to improve Airtel’s network experience, using digital technology including machine learning, big data and building customized tools to improve network planning based on every customer’s device experience. Leaning on the experience of the facilitator of one of the worlds most advanced digital economies is not a bad idea.

“This partnership will bring a dramatically improved experience to Airtel customers in India by leveraging the expertise of a company that has built one of the best mobile broadband networks in the world,” Said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel.

“Strong partnerships have been a hallmark of Airtel’s growth journey and we are proud to have always looked ahead to bring the latest technology to India. With SK Telecom’s clear and undisputed leadership in technology, this is one partnership that will decisively change the game in India and put the country at par with the most advanced broadband nations in the world.”

Perhaps Bharti investors do not have the same poker face as Jio billionaire owner Mukesh Ambani, but this would appear to be a play for quality over quantity; Jio can continue to offer more, but our mobile broadband experience will be better, Bharti seems to be saying. It’s an interesting choice to make, and one which has split the masses for decades. Some will want more (or cheaper in this case), but some will want a better experience.

The two companies will also collaborate on an on-going basis to evolve standards for 5G, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Internet of Things (IoT), while also working together to build an ecosystem to deliver the technologies in India.

“SK Telecom will work closely with Bharti to achieve new network innovations so as to deliver a greater value to Bharti’s customers,” said Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Telecom.

Bigger or better, the age-old question.

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