“Jio will stop charging users for voice calls to other networks on January 1st 2020, per government regulation”
Jio has ended free voice call benefits for its subscribers citing interconnect usage charges (IUC). The telecom operator with over 35 crore subscribers base is now charging subscribers 6 paise per minute to make calls to other mobile phone networks such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, or BSNL. The decision is said to be temporary and amid the regulatory uncertainty over the phasing out of IUC, which required Jio to pay to other telecom operators. There has been an outcry and multiple developments ever since Jio announced to charge its customers for voice calls.
Everything you need to know about Jio IUC charges
- Voice calls charged at 6p per minute
Jio will be charging consumers 6 paise per minute for calls made to other networks mobile voice calls. Both postpaid and prepaid subscribers will be charged when they make calls to networks other than Jio as long as IUC charges exist.
- No charges for calls made to Jio and landline numbers
Jio has exempted voice call charges from calls made within the network; to landline connection; on all incoming calls; and calls made using WhatsApp, FaceTime or similar platforms.
- Customers on existing recharge packs shouldn't worry
Jio subscribers who have purchased a recharge pack on or before October 9th will continue to enjoy free call benefits (even to non-Jio numbers) until their plan expires.
- What are IUC charges?
If you're wondering what IUC charges are, it's the cost a telco pay to another when its customers make outgoing calls to the other operator's customers. The type of call is generally known as off-net calls.
- Who decides the IUC charges and what is the current cost?
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India aka TRAI sets the IUC charges, which is currently at 6 paise per minute. This is down from 14 paise per minute from 2016.
- Buy Jio IUC recharges for 'free' calls to other networks
Jio hasn't made any changes to its existing plans but has introduced IUC-specific recharge packs. These recharges start for as low as Rs 10 and offer bundled IUC calling minutes as well as data.
- Jio users also getting 30 minutes of free calls
To soften the blow of outgoing calls on its subscribers, Jio is reportedly offering 30 minutes of free talk time. Users who are currently making a new recharge on their Jio numbers will get 30 minutes of free IUC minutes for outgoing calls to other networks. The report mentions that the 30 minutes of free talktime is only limited to those who make a recharge within seven days from the date of the announcement, so until Thursday, October 17th.
- Why Jio is doing this
Due to the price differential of free voice and high tariffs on 2G networks, Jio claims that it's receiving close to 25-30 crore missed calls daily. This has resulted in 65-75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic rather than incoming traffic on the telco's network. Due to this, Jio is paying IUC charges to other mobile phones network, which have amounted to nearly Rs 13,500 crores over the last 3 years.
- When the IUC charges will end?
The IUC charges are scheduled to be scrapped on January 1st, 2020. However, TRAI has recently floated a fresh consultation paper to see if zero IUC charge can be delayed since there is a large chunk of 2G subscribers who have not moved to VoLTE in India. So it seems unlikely that the IUC regulation will come into effect by January 1st, 2020.
- Airtel, Vodafone Idea won't follow suit
Airtel as well as Vodafone Idea Ltd have assured their subscribers that they don't have to bother about IUC charges. Vodafone Idea Ltd has said that it has no such intention of separately billing their users for calls made outside networks, while Airtel has targeted Jio by saying that the latter is forcing TRAI to terminate the IUC by levying charges on voice calls.
The Rs 10 Jio IUC recharge will offer you 1GB data and 124 IUC minutes of voice calls to other networks. Jio’s prepaid customers can also opt for Rs 20 pack that comes with 249 IUC minutes and 2GB data; Rs 50 pack for 656 IUC minutes and 5GB data; or Rs 100 pack for 1,362 IUC minutes and 10GB data. Postpaid users, meanwhile, will get free 1 GB data for every Rs 10 they spend on IUC charges.
Eventually, the end of this move all boils down to TRAI, which is yet to take a decisive stand on termination of IUC on January 1st, 2020. “There should be a progressive reduction in termination charges finally converging to zero termination charge … at the end of 2 years from the present,” said TRAI in its affidavit in Supreme Court back in October 2011. The regulatory board later revised the IUC rate at 6 paise per minute on October 1st, 2017 and said that it’ll continue till December 31st, 2019.