New Delhi: Seven major telecom operators across Africa and Middle East, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group, will share their network infrastructure, with the objective of providing Internet to rural communities and driving down the cost of mobile services.
"Senior leaders from seven major mobile operator groups, serving 506 million customers across Africa and the Middle East, plan to cooperate on network infrastructure sharing initiatives," global telecom body GSM Association (GSMA) said in a statement.
The seven operators include Bharti Airtel, Etisalat Group, MTN Group, Ooredoo Group, Orange, Vodafone Group and Zain Group.
The participating operators have made this commitment to providing Internet and mobile broadband access to unserved rural communities and driving down the cost of mobile services for all sections of the population.
"Unique mobile subscriber penetration is only 40 percent in Africa and the Middle East, lower than the global average of 47 percent, so we need to work together to expand the reach of mobile," GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot said.
The operators collectively manage 76 mobile network operations across 47 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where many of the unconnected population live in rural areas, it said.
"This cooperation demonstrates that the industry is committed to innovating in order to serve the billions living in the rural areas," Bharti Enterprises MD and Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the GSMA board Manoj Kohli said.