Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio will charge 6 paise per minute for voice calls made to other network operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Reliance Jio’s move to charge for calls to other network operators is in line with the Interconnect Usage Charge or IUC fixed by the telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
However, the Reliance Jio will compensate its customers by giving free data of equal value.
Interconnect Usage Charge or IUC is a cost paid by one mobile telecom operator to another, when its customers make outgoing mobile calls to the other operator’s customers.
“These calls between two different networks are known as mobile off-net calls. IUC charges are fixed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and are currently at 6 paise per minute,” the Reliance Jio said in a press release.
TRAI, has repeatedly since 2011, affirmed its stance that the IUC charges should be brought down to zero.
Jio assures its 35 crore customers that the 6 paise per minute charge on outgoing off-net mobile calls shall continue only till the time TRAI abolishes IUC, in line with its present regulation.
“So, for all recharges done by Jio customers starting today, calls made to other mobile operators will be charged at the prevailing IUC rate of 6 paise per minute through IUC top-up vouchers till such time that TRAI moves to Zero termination charge regime. Presently, this date is 1st January 2020,” the Reliance Jio said.
“Relying on the repeated stance of TRAI and the amendment already made to the regulations reducing the IUC to Zero, Jio continued to pay IUC from its own resources to Airtel and Vodafone-Idea etc. while offering free voice to its customers.”
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IUC for mobile calls was reduced from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute from October 1, 2017.
“So far, in the last three years Jio has paid nearly Rs.13,500 crore as NET IUC charges to the other operators,” Jio said.
However, Jio made it clear that there is no 6 paise per minute charge on: all Jio to Jio calls; all incoming calls; Jio to landline calls and calls made using WhatsApp or FaceTime and similar platforms.
Additionally, Jio, with Reliance Retail, will ensure priority allocation of the JioPhone to frequently called 2G users from Jio consumers.
“Jio will provide additional data entitlement of equivalent value based on IUC top-up voucher consumption. This will ensure no increase in tariff for customers,” it said.
Jio stated that after the order in 2017 while the incumbent operators reduced voice tariffs for their 4G customers, they continued to charge exorbitant tariffs to their 35 – 40 crore 2G customers.
It claimed that the other incumbent operators “increased the tariffs for voice calls to around Rs. 1.50/ minute. They also charge a minimum of Rs 500 / GB for data from their 2G customers.”
“The price differential of free voice on Jio network and exorbitantly high tariffs on 2G networks causes the 35 – 40 crore 2G customers of Airtel and Vodafone-Idea to give missed calls to Jio customers.”
“Jio network receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis,” it added.
This huge missed call phenomena converts the incoming calls to Jio into outgoing calls from Jio to other operators.
The 25 to 30 crore missed calls per day should have resulted in 65 to 75 crore minutes of incoming traffic to Jio.
Instead, the call back made by the Jio customers results in 65 to 75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic, said Jio.
“But for the effects of the tariff differential, especially the missed call phenomenon, the off-net voice traffic is already symmetrical now for Jio. It is being made asymmetric by the other operators by keeping their 2G voice tariffs high,” Jio further stated.