Reliance Communication’s (RCom) deal to segregate its wireless business and then merge it with Aircel and its subsidiary Dishnet Wireless was approved by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Aircel and Reliance have been in talks since December 2015 to combine their respective wireless operations.

The deal was already approved by the Securities and Exchange Board of India, Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange of India, but still requires sign-off from other bodies before final approval is granted.

In a statement, RCom confirmed the CCI had given the green light to its proposal, which will see it and Aircel each hold a 50 per cent stake in the merged wireless business. The deal is expected to be completed during 2017.

Following the separation of its wireless business, Rcom will continue to own and operate its enterprise, data centre and fibre optic assets, as well as owning real estate.

When announced, the merged company was expected to become India’s third-largest wireless operator, with around 188 million connections placing it ahead of Idea Cellular, but behind Vodafone India and market leader Bharti Airtel.

However, since then, the outlook of the market changed substantially. Idea and Vodafone revealed their merger plans earlier today, while in February Telenor announced it was selling its Indian operation to Bharti Airtel. In addition, new entrant Reliance Jio made rapid progress in terms of building its subscriber base.