Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (Jio) while intensifying its agitation against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has decided to charge 6 paisa per minute from all users who will call any other operator. Jio, however, says, since it will be providing equivalent data for the value of this top up voucher, there would be no increase for its subscribers.
In a statement, Jio says, "...for all recharges done by Jio customers starting Wednesday, calls made to other mobile operators will be charged at the prevailing interconnect usage charge (IUC) rate of 6 paise per minute through IUC top-up vouchers till such time that TRAI moves to zero termination charge regime. Presently, this date is 1 January 2020."
There, however, will be no 6 paise per minute charge on all Jio to Jio calls; all incoming calls; calls made from Jio to landline calls; and calls made using WhatsApp or FaceTime and similar platforms, the company added.
(*Equivalent minutes with IUC charged at 6 paise per minute, with additional charge for GST and processing fee, and duration of each call rounded up to nearest minute.)
IUC is a cost paid by one mobile telecom operator to another, when its customers make outgoing mobile calls to the other operator's customers. These calls between two different networks are known as mobile off-net calls. IUC charges are fixed by TRAI and are currently at 6 paise per minute.
Jio says since 2011, TRAI has repeatedly affirmed its stand that the IUC charges should be brought done to zero. However, after bringing down the IUC charges to 6 paisa per minute from 14 paise per minute from 1 October 2017, and promising to make it zero, the regulator has not done anything, Jio alleges.
It says, "Relying on the repeated stance of TRAI and the amendment already made to the regulations reducing the IUC to Zero, Jio continued to pay IUC from its own resources to Airtel and Vodafone-Idea among others while offering free voice to its customers. So far, in the last three years Jio has paid nearly Rs13,500 crore as NET IUC charges to the other operators."
"Unfortunately, after the above order in 2017, while the incumbent operators reduced voice tariffs for their 4G customers, they continued to charge exorbitant tariffs to their 35 - 40 crore 2G customers, and in fact increased the tariffs for voice calls to around Rs1.50 per minute. They also charge a minimum of Rs500 per GB for data from their 2G customers," Jio added.
According to the Reliance group company, the price differential of free voice on Jio network and exorbitantly high tariffs on 2G networks causes the 35 - 40 crore 2G customers of Airtel and Vodafone-Idea to give missed calls to Jio customers and its network receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis.
"This huge missed call phenomena converts the incoming calls to Jio into outgoing calls from Jio to other operators. The 25 to 30 crore missed calls per day should have resulted in 65 to 75 crore minutes of incoming traffic to Jio. Instead, the call back made by the Jio customers results in 65 to 75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic. But for the effects of the tariff differential, especially the missed call phenomenon, the off-net voice traffic is already symmetrical now for Jio. It is being made asymmetric by the other operators by keeping their 2G voice tariffs high," it says.
While levying 6 paisa per minute from its subscribers for making calls to other operator, Jio says it will provide additional data entitlement of equivalent value based on IUC top-up voucher consumption to ensure no increase in tariff for customers.
"Post-paid customers will be billed at 6 paise per minute for off-net outgoing calls with increase in free data entitlement to the extent mentioned above," it added.
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