The merger of India’s second and third-largest cellcos by subscribers, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, received its final regulatory green light this week, with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) finally approving the tie-up. The Economic Times writes that the approval came after Vodafone and Idea paid a combined total of around INR72.5 billion (USD1.06 billion) in spectrum liberalisation fees and one-time spectrum charges (OTSCs). The payments were made under protest, however, and the companies are expected to proceed with challenges to the DoT’s decision demanding the funds.
Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao was quoted as saying that he expected the merger to close in August this year. The creation of the enlarged ‘Vodafone Idea’ firm is expected to save the pair a total of around USD10 billion in the long-term and position the operator to face competition from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) and Bharti Airtel. The merger will also allow the duo to leapfrog Airtel to become the largest mobile operator, with a market share of around 37% – compared to Airtel’s 26%.