Jio to charge users 6 paisa/min
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.
New Delhi: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio will, for the first time ever, charge a small 6 paisa per minute for voice calls made by its users to mobile phone networks of rivals such as Airtel and Vodafone Idea to recover a charge that could last beyond the previously set December 31, 2019 deadline.
Blaming regulatory uncertainty caused by TRAI reopening sunset clause of the so-called interconnect user charge (IUC), Jio in a statement said the charge would last till such time that regulations require payments to rival networks for completing calls. Jio, however, said it will compensate the users by giving free data of equivalent amount.
Jio, which charges users on its 4G telecom network only for data usage while voice calls to anywhere in the country are free, said the new charge would not be applicable on calls made by its users to other Jio phones and to landline phones as well as on calls made using WhatsApp, FaceTime and other such platforms. Incoming calls from all networks will continue to be free. Telecom regulator TRAI in 2017 had slashed IUC to 6 paise per minute from 14 paise and had proposed to end the regime on December 31, 2019, after considering various factors. But it has now floated a consultation paper to review whether the timeline needs to be extended. Since voice calls on 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, Jio said, adding that to recover the losses created by the TRAI move, the company has decided to charge customers 6 paise per minute for every call they make to a rival's network. This will be the first time that Jio users will pay for voice calls. Airtel reacted to the move by saying that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in September 2017 specifically mentioned that it will, if need be, re-visit the zero IUC regime plans.
Jio said the TRAI consultation paper seeking to reopen sunset clause of IUC "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." 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.(PTI)