Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s largest telecom firm by market share, today said it has formed a joint venture with France’s Alcatel Lucent to manage its broadband and fixed line services. The JV will lead the telco’s migration into next generation networks to offer advanced services such as high speed Internet, triple play and media-rich value added services. Bharti owns 26% stake in the yet-to-be-named JV, with Alcatel-Lucent holding the rest. Bharti has also signed a $500 million, five-year managed services contract with the new JV, under which the latter will manage Bharti’s 3 million broadband and fixed line subscribers under its telemedia business.
Bharti CEO Manoj Kohli (pictured, right) had to field several questions at the press conference on why the company decided to form a joint venture, rather than sign a straightforward service management contract with Alcatel-Lucent. Bharti’s rival Reliance Communications has a similar contract with Alcatel-Lucent. Kohli explained it away by saying fixed line and broadband services need far greater customer engagement than wireless services, and the JV signifies a deep commitment towards “transforming the network and the customer experience” in the telemedia business.