The Foreign Investments Promotion Board (FIPB) has given its nod to UK-based New Call Telecom to acquire public wi-fi provider Ozone networks. Earlier in May, the FIPB deferred Ozone Networks proposal to increase foreign direct investment from 33.33% (from AL Telecom Holdings (India) Limited, Cyprus) to up to 100%. New Call Telecom had announced its intention to acquire Ozone in February 2015.
In November last year, Ozone Networks had signed a Small Cell as a Service agreement with Ericsson to provide a neutral Wi-Fi network across India. In the first stage of this project, Ozone was expected to get 30,000 Wi-Fi access points, network management nodes and tools, along with various monetization options for the network from Ericsson.
Ozone Networks powers Wi-Fi in restaurant and shop chains in 23 major citites. It has deployed 2,000 public hotspots with 6,500 total access points, which includes private hotspots in educational institutions, hospitals and hotels. Ozone Wi-Fi locations include McDonalds, Costa Coffee, Oberoi otels, Barista coffee, Mumbai airport, Apollo hospitals, Hauz Khas village, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. The company claims that more than 2.5 million people connect to Ozone hotspots every month and growing fast, and the business saw a 200% growth in data in the last fiscal year.
New Call is an internet services and technology company, with interests in the UK and emerging markets. Part of the New Sparta Group of companies, it acquired instant messager Nimbuzz for about $175 million in October 2014. Nimbuzz also released an Android dialer app called Holaa which features a caller ID that displays the callers photo, location & email ID along with the name, phonebook synchronisation with Facebook & Google accounts.
Google+ deal: In January 2012, Ozone Networks had signed a three month deal with with Google to offer users free and unlimited access to Google+ and access to YouTube to watch ‘exclusive movie clips’ and promotions for 10 minutes each week, when they connect to Ozone’s Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.
Image credit: Flickr user Arkangel