Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS) announced on Thursday that it will invest 50 billion rupees ($673 million) to develop its data centre operations to meet consumer demand in and around India.
According to Airtel Business CEO Ajay Chitkara, the company’s Nxtra unit would invest by 2025, with plans to establish a data centre ecosystem across 80 Indian cities, bringing the total installed capacity to more than 400 MW.
“In the next three to four years, there is a great potential and huge demand (for data centres),” Chitkara said.
Nxtra presently operates 10 big data centres and 120 edge data centres, or smaller data processing facilities, across India, as part of a telco plan to diversify revenue streams and attract enterprise clients who traditionally offer higher margins.
Traditional voice services are seeing fresh competition from free calls on apps like Facebook’s (FB.O) WhatsApp and Signal, according to the business strategy.
Last year, a subsidiary of Carlyle (CG.O), a private equity firm based in the United States, purchased a 25% investment in Nxtra. Airtel still owns 75% of the company.
According to Gartner analyst Naveen Mishra, public cloud investment in India is likely to hit $12 billion by 2025.
Reliance Jio, owned by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, collaborated with Microsoft (MSFT.O) in 2019 to develop data centres across India, and with Google (GOOGL.O) this year to improve its enterprise and consumer products as it prepares to introduce 5G services.
Separately, Airtel announced that Nxtra will boost its use of green energy in its data centres, with the goal of sourcing 50% of its power needs from renewable sources.