Jio users will now be charged 6 paise per minute for voice calls made to rival phone networks. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio has taken the decision forced by regulatory uncertainty over review of sunset clause for call termination charges. However, the company will also compensate the customers by giving them free data of equal value.
Reliance Jio, in a statement, said: "The 6 paisa charge will remain in place till the time telecom operators are required to pay rivals for mobile phone calls made by their users to other operators' network."
The charges will not be applicable on calls made by Jio users to other Jio phones and to landline phones and calls made using WhatsApp, FaceTime and other such platforms. Incoming calls from all networks will continue to be free.
Jio users to be charged for voice calls for the first time
This is for the first time when Jio users will be charged for voice calls, 6 paisa/minute on voice calls to rival phone networks. In 2017, telecom regulator TRAI had slashed the so-called interconnect usage charge (IUC) to 6 paise per minute from 14 paise and had said this regime will end by January 2020. But it has now floated a consultation paper to review whether the regime timeline needs to be extended.
Reliance Jio had to bear the Rs 13,500 crore payment made to rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea since voice calls on its network were free. Now that has to recover the losses caused by the TRAI move, Reliance Jio has decided to charge customers 6 paise per minute for every call they make to a rival's network.
Currently, Jio charges only for data, and voice calls to anywhere in the country and to any network are free.
"...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.
For all recharges done by Jio customers starting Wednesday, 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.
"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," Jio said.
Jio said it has, in last three years, paid other operators like Airtel and Vodafone-Idea nearly Rs 13,500 crore as net IUC charges.