Reliance Jio on Wednesday announced that it has decided to start charging six paise a minute to subscribers making calls to other mobile networks. The Mumbai-based operator claimed that the new voice charge would be at the prevailing Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) rate that has been fixed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for telcos enabling inter-networking outgoing calls, which are also known as off-net voice calls. The new change is specifically designed for voice calls being made to other operators, while all Jio-to-Jio calls, incoming calls, and Jio-to-landline calls will remain to be available at no additional charge.
To charge off-net voice calls, Reliance Jio announced four IUC top-up vouchers — valued between Rs. 10 and Rs. 100. The operator said that it will provide additional data entitlement of equivalent value based on the IUC top-up voucher consumption to ensure no increase in tariff for customers. Furthermore, postpaid Jio customers will also be billed at six paise per minute for off-net outgoing calls with an increase in free data entitlement to the extent provided in the vouchers.
In a statement issued to the media, Reliance Jio said it had been forced to impose the outgoing call charge due to the IUC that operators need to pay for enabling off-net voice calls on their networks. The operator also claimed that due to bearing IUC from its own resources, it had paid nearly Rs. 13,500 crores to other operators in the last three years, while after the regulator in 2017 amended the IUC charge, other telcos continued to charge “exorbitant tariffs” and increased the tariffs for voice calls to around Rs. 1.50 per minute.
Reliance Jio assured that the six paise per minute charge on outgoing off-net calls should continue only till the time TRAI abolishes IUC completely. Notably, the regulator, as per its last amendment in 2017, is set to implement a zero termination charge regime on January 1, 2020. If no changes to this policy are made, post this date, there will be no voice call charges levied by Reliance Jio.
“We are hopeful that the IUC charge will be done away with as per the current regulation and that this temporary charge will come to an end by 31st December 2019 and consumers will not have to pay this charge thereafter,” Reliance Jio said in the statement.