Uber Technologies Inc., one of the world’s most highly valued startups, will offer free 4G wireless connection to its passengers in India. To do so, the company will partner with the country’s largest wireless carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd., the cab-hailing service provider said in a post Friday.
Uber has entered a partnership with Bharti Airtel to provide the service on some 150,000 Uber cabs in India. Passengers who use it can also pay for their rides with Bharti’s mobile wallet, Airtel Money.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sees India as the company's fastest growing market and its biggest after the U.S., and is investing upwards of a billion dollars in India, where it is engaged in a pitched battle with local competitor ANI Technologies, which operates Ola Cabs, the country’s biggest ridesharing-service provider. Ola is backed by Japanese telecom and Internet giant SoftBank Corp.
The California company is investing $50 million in a new operations center in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.
India’s smartphone boom has helped make the country a viable market for services such as cab-hailing, although it has not been without its opponents.
Uber and Ola are only just emerging from a blanket ban in New Delhi, which, while not enforced, demonstrate that regulations and compliance are a work in progress for this new sector. The ban was imposed after an Uber rider complained her driver raped her in New Delhi in December. Uber and Ola continue to engage authorities in various states in India.