UK-based internet service provider New Call Telecom is scouting for investors to pump $400-500 million to help recently acquired Delhi-based Wi-Fi company Ozone Networks expand outside India.
"We are looking at strategic investors that really understand the benefit and strategies around Ozone and Wi-Fi in India," said Nigel Eastwood, CEO of New Call Telecom. Along with third-party investors, the company could easily invest $400-500 million in Ozone Networks over the next few years, he said.
Ozone Networks is aiming to deploy a million hotspots in India by 2020. "The UK has 6 million hotspots for 65 million inhabitants. In India, we have a population of 1.4 billion. One could imagine that even a million hotspots here would hardly touch the surface," said Eastwood. Over the next 18 months, Ozone plans to reach 30,000 locations in India with the help of Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson. Eastwood said the company is now actively deploying more hotspots after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board's go-ahead in September to New Call Telecom's acquisition of Ozone Networks.
Founded in 2008, Ozone Networks offers Wi-Fi in many big restaurant and retail chains top 23 cities. It has deployed 2,000 public hotspots, with a total of 6,500 access points, including private hotspots in educational institutions, hospitals and hotels.
Ozone Networks is in talks with telecom carriers to form partnerships to provide Wi-Fi services across the country. In addition, the firm is discussing Wi-Fi offloading tie-ups with the carriers. "For the Wi-Fi strategy to work properly, it's going to be collaboration, similar to what we are seeing in the cellular space, which is sharing spectrum," said Eastwood.
New Call Telecom is also looking to acquire three-four new companies in the software and infrastructure segments to support its over-thetop, or app, strategy in India. It could invest about $300 million (Rs 1,950 crore) in the next 12 months in the country.
"Now, we are looking at complementary assets for our existing businesses. We are taking much more stringent view on what really fits in. Fintech (financial technology), content, big data are the focus areas," said Eastwood.