Jio to charge voice calls to rival networks at 6 paise/minute

Reliance Jio IUC regime change explainer Here’s everything you need to know

Reliance Jio logo. Representational image

For example, for a recharge of Rs 10, a Jio customer will get 124 IUC minutes and 1GB of free data entitlement.

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.

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, in a statement, said that the move by Jio was aimed to "force IUC (interconnect usage charge) to be brought down", adding that the ongoing review of call connect charges or IUC is consistent with previously-stated intent by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). Incoming calls to Jio will continue to be free of charge.

Additionally, Jio, with Reliance Retail, will ensure priority allocation of the JioPhone to frequently called 2G users from Jio consumers. In the press release announcing the news charge Jio goes into great length about how often TRAI said the charge would be scrapped by the end of this year, but then claims it's having a rethink - hence the new charges.

Jio post-paid connections will also have to pay the 6 paise per minute charge for outgoing calls.

Jio said it has, in the last three years, paid other operators like Airtel and Vodafone-Idea almost Rs 13,500 crore as net IUC charges.

Reliance Jio stormed into the industry in 2016, and became the nation's top telecom operator this year after free calls and cheap data lured millions of users and left rivals struggling under mounting debt.

Postpaid users will be directly billed 6 paise per minute with additional data similar to that offered to prepaid users.

When TRAI chose to scrap IUC, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had resisted the change, while Jio was in favour. The telecom regulator has said that the IUC charges will be made zero by January 1, 2020.

Jio's decision to charge its customers comes after the TRAI floated a consultation paper to extend the deadline - to make IUC charges zero - from January 1, 2020, citing traffic asymmetry. Reliance Jio, however, introduced special top-up vouchers to compensate users for the interconnect usage charges (IUC). The new rules will apply on all recharges done by Jio customers starting Wednesday.

".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. You can save yourself from the top-up voucher in two ways - either call the user on their Jio number or use WhatsApp to call them.

"In the meanwhile, consumers can continue to enjoy the additional data entitlement in lieu of the IUC top-up vouchers so that there is no effective tariff increase till 31st December 31, 2019", Jio said.

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