Airtel ropes in Verizon to take on Jio in video conferencing space

Airtel Verizon BlueJeans
Airtel BlueJeans image courtesy Verizon

Bharti Airtel has entered into a strategic partnership with US-based telecom carrier Verizon to launch a new video conferencing service for enterprise and medium-sized businesses, and said that it is exploring new areas for collaboration in the country.

The new video conferencing service, Airtel BlueJeans, will be available for free for three months, Airtel said, adding that it will offer “competitive pricing options” to its enterprise customers. 

The launch comes days after the launch of JioMeet video-conferencing service by Airtel’s arch-rival, Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is owned by the world’s sixth-richest man Mukesh Ambani. 

Airtel BlueJeans will be free for all business customers for three months. Airtel said that after the trial offer, it will offer competitive pricing options to its customers.

Airtel is the first telecom operator in the world to distribute Verizon’s BlueJeans video conferencing service.  “This work from home trend and this increasing trend towards conferencing and collaborating from remote areas is only going to grow.  So we believe that this is a very nascent market – the penetration is low and the opportunity is very large,” Gopal Vittal, Airtel’s chief executive officer for India and South Asia said.

Vittal said that while the service will initially be available for enterprises and MSMEs, Airtel will also tap small and home enterprises through home broadband bundling. “There will be several approaches that we will take to tap the full opportunity in India,” he said.

The Sunil Mittal-led telecom operator said that it will host all of its data in India on its local data center. “We are committed to enterprise-grade security and privacy of customers,” he said.

Airtel, which serves half a million medium and small enterprises and 2500 large enterprises, already offers bundled video conferencing solutions in partnership Zoom, Cisco WebEx and Google Hangouts Meet.

Verizon’s Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg said that the company has selected Bharti Airtel because of its strength in India’s enterprise space. “Airtel has a strong brand and distribution in India. We have high hopes. We have a good partnership with Airtel and the market really needs video conferencing solutions.”

Vestberg said that Verizon acquired BlueJeans a couple of months back having worked with it for years to serve Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, and universities among others. 

Airtel said that the main USP of the latest product is security and trust that the telecom operator sharers with its enterprise customers in India

“We know we are not first…we are solving security and privacy problems and are keeping the data safe. We are giving a commitment to privacy,” Vittal said

He added that enterprise and MSME customers are looking for security and ease of use even as there are many products available in the market. 

Airtel is also open to extending its partnership with Verizon to explore interests in new areas.  “We have been working together for many years. We respect Verizon a lot and will certainly look at areas that can add value.”

He added that both companies have worked closely to customize the latest product as per local needs of enterprises and MSMEs.

Verizon’s Digital Media Services had previously partnered with Airtel to launch new points of presence (PoPs) in four cities in India: Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and New Delhi. 

India, along with the rest of the world, is witnessing a massive surge in demand for enterprise-grade video conferencing tools as Work from Home and virtual meetings become the new normal. Services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout Meet saw rapid update following the nationwide lockdown in India which forced employees to work from home and adopt collaboration tools to stay connected.

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