QR.bizNewsJio's no more free, Airtel & Vodafone-Idea to make a call

Jio's no more free, Airtel & Vodafone-Idea to make a call

Shares of Vodafone Idea Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. surged after the wireless carrier controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani said it will end free voice calls on its network. In the last three years, Jio paid nearly 135 billion rupees ($1.9 billion) as interconnect charges to the other operators.

This is the first time that Jio users will pay for voice calls which has been free so far since September 2016.

"IUC" is a technical term for the price that a telecom operator (from where the call originates) pays another to terminate a call. "Presently, this date is 1st January 2020", Jio said in a statement. The company will now start charging its prepaid and postpaid users 6 paise per minute for outgoing calls to Airtel, Vodafone, BSNL and others.

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

The company said for all the outgoing calls to other mobile operators, Jio users will have to buy an additional IUC top up voucher from tomorrow.

Jio assures its 35 crore customers that the 6 paise per minute charge on outgoing off-net mobile calls shall continue only till the time TRAI abolishes IUC, in line with its present regulation.

It's only when a Reliance Jio user completes this recharge will they able to make outgoing calls to other telecom operators other than Jio.

However, Jio-to-Jio calls, incoming calls, Jio to landline calls and calls made through online apps such as WhatsApp of FaceTime will continue to be free.

"Jio's majority subscriber base is on bundled plans and it is thus easier for it to charge for off-net calls which may not be the case with Bharti and Vodafone Idea.Nevertheless, we believe Bharti and Vodafone Idea may either replicate Jio's move or innovate on product front to capitalize from Jio's price increase". It had further prescribed a bill-and-keep (BAK) regime, i.e. zero IUC or termination charge effective, from 1 January 2020.

Now, that we have clarified the concept around IUC and how Jio is now going to charge users to offset the losses, well, let's take a look at top-up vouchers it's offering users. Alternatively the TRIA decision could be nothing new and Jio is just using it as a smokescreen to start taking back some of its freebies. There are similar vouchers valued at Rs 20, 50, and 100, which give proportionally more call minutes.

".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.

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