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Phones

India has a new biggest telco thanks to $23BN merger

A price war in the world's second largest mobile services market has brought two rivals together to bring 4G to villages, towns and cities across the country.

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Vodafone also rules the mobile money market in India.

PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

India has a new largest mobile network operator and it's all thanks to a $23 billion merger of two former rivals.

The Vodafone Group announced on Monday that it was merging its Indian operations with competitor Idea Cellular to create a new giant in India's telco space, boasting over 400 million customers.

India is the world's second largest mobile phones services market after China, and it's not just network operators trying to make their mark in the country. In order to make iPhones more affordable in the country, Apple is set to manufacture devices locally in Bengaluru, to try and increase its market share in the highly competitive market

The last year has been tough for Indian telcos since the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm's 4G network, built for more than $20 billion by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani. Jio offered many customers months of free services for signing up, forcing rivals to slash prices.

The strategy behind the Vodafone-Idea Cellular merger is for the two companies to fill in the blanks in each other's networks so that villages, towns and cities across India can access the best in 4G, said Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao in a statement.

"The combined company will have the scale required to ensure sustainable consumer choice in a competitive market and to expand new technologies -- such as mobile money services -- that have the potential to transform daily life for every Indian," he said.