India's Bharti Airtel has revealed plans to buy out Alcatel-Lucent's share in a JV managing the operator's local fixed-line networks, and invite fellow fixed-line operators to join in the venture.
The company revealed it will buy Alcatel-Lucent's entire holding in Alcatel-Lucent India and Alcatel-Lucent Managed Network Service India.
Airtel and Alcatel-Lucent forged a 26:74 joint venture in 2009. Airtel subsequently handed the entity a $500 million (€368 million) contract to manage its fixed-line and broadband infrastructure in around 100 cities for a five-year period.
The outsourcing unit will be operated independently of Airtel, and will retain responsibility for managing and deploying the operator's fixed-line and broadband networks.
Airtel said it will also seek equity participation from other operators, with the aim of transforming the venture into a carrier-agnostic fixed-line infrastructure management company along the lines of Indus Towers, the operator's mobile towers and infrastructure JV.
While Airtel's announcement does not specify which operators will be invited, a telecom executive told the Economic Times that the most likely to be approached will be fellow Indus Towers owners Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.
Vodafone India has been rolling out fixed-line services for the last two years. While Idea Cellular does not provide any fixed line service, it does has a fiber network.