Reliance Jio to starting charging for voice calls to other networks

Jio IUC Top Up Vouchers Detailed as Telco Starts Charging 6 Paise per Minute on Outgoing Calls to Other Networks

The country's youngest telecom will charging users for making calls to users on Airtel and Vodafone-Idea networks.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman R.S. Sharma didn't respond to calls for response to Jio's contention that it was forced to take the step due to regulatory uncertainty created by TRAI.

Since voice calls on the Jio network are free, the company had to bear the Rs 13,500 crore payment made to rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

If Indian Twitter is anything to go by, this hasn't gone down well among the millions of Indians who switched to Jio, seduced by all the actual free stuff, as opposed to free stuff you have to pay for.

At the time of its launch, it had announced that all voice calls will be given for free along with affordable data rates. "Presently, this date is 1st January 2020", Jio said in a statement. Jio reportedly receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis and the call back made by Jio customers results in 65 to 75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic. If a subscriber requires more minutes than what's available through the Rs. 10 IUC top-up voucher, there is the Rs. 20 voucher with 249 minutes.

Reliance Jio has announced that it will start to charge for outgoing voice calls to other networks. For extensive outgoing calling support to other mobile networks, there is also the Rs. 100 voucher that brings 1,362 minutes of talk time in addition to 10GB of data.

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"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".

Shares of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd ended 5-6% higher while Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) was up almost 3% on Thursday.

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.

Post-paid customers will be billed at 6 paise per minute for off-net outgoing calls with increase in free data entitlement in the same manner. Calls to other Jio users, to landlines and those made using apps such as WhatsApp and Viber will continue to remain free. However, on 18 September 2019, the regulator floated a consultation paper to review the implementation of the zero IUC regime from 1 January 2020, following representation from some stakeholders.

".The consultation paper has created regulatory uncertainty and therefore Jio has been compelled, most reluctantly and unavoidably, to recover this regulatory charge of 6 paise per minute for all off-net mobile voice calls so long as IUC charges exist", the statement said.

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