Bharti Airtel Limited has selected IBM to manage its network in Africa. Under the 10-year planned agreement, IBM will consolidate 16 different IT environments across Bharti Airtel’s African operations into an integrated IT system and will oversee the management of all of the applications, data center operations, servers, storage and desktop services. In addition, IBM will deploy advanced technologies created by IBM Research, including the Spoken Web — a voice-enabled Internet technology that allows users to access and share information simply by talking over an existing telephone. This is particularly compelling for populations with little or no literacy, visual impairments, or which lack access to PCs. It will also offer career enhancement opportunities to Bharti Airtel’s employees in the IT domain who will now get exposure to global best practices and latest technologies with IBM. Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel, said, “There are huge opportunities throughout Africa to transform how people communicate and how communities interact. Delivering on that opportunity through affordable mobile communications for everyone is our focus.” When the agreement becomes final, IBM will provide customer support applications that include customer relationship management, billing and self-care that will empower customers and assist Bharti Airtel in delivering 2G and 3G mobile services. In addition, IBM plans to deploy a content management system to offer rich media content such as music and video over mobile devices, while simultaneously facilitating the growth of the application developer community in Africa. The strategic partnership will enable Bharti Airtel to scale its network and systems to more than 100 million African customers by 2012. IBM will also be responsible for deploying advanced information security systems that will provide privacy protection for customer data and enhance the resilience of enterprise systems against threats. The agreement is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter.