Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Vodafone Idea says Jio's call on IUC was done in "undue haste"

Vodafone Idea says Jio's call on IUC was done in

Disruptive Indian operator Reliance Jio has announced it will start charging its customers for calls to other networks due to a regulatory change.

According to the official announcement, Reliance Jio subscribers will be charged at six paise per minute through the IUC top-up vouchers for all the outgoing calls made to other mobile networks starting today. TRAI had said that the regime would end by January 2020.

The Sunil Mittal-owned company said: "On September 19, 2017, when TRAI reduced the IUC from 14 paise to 6 paise and proposed a move towards "bill and keep" (zero IUC) with effect from January 1, 2020, it had specifically mentioned that the TRAI shall keep a close watch on developments in the sector, particularly with respect to the adoption of new technologies and their impact on termination cost". This would prompt Airtel customer to call back the Jio number, enabling the latter to earn IUC payment rather than pay it. Jio claims that as many as 35-40 crore 2G customers of Airtel and Vodafone-Idea give missed calls to its customers as its tariffs are the lowest. The TRAI in 2017 had fixed the IUC charge at 6 paise per minute.

When Jio became public in 2016, it offered free calls and texts to all users along with affordable data rates. Jio users, however, would be provided free data of similar value to offset the burden on them.

"Jio network receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis", it added. Calls made to any network outside Jio will not be connected if customers do not buy a top-up (minimum of Rs 10 for 124 free minutes and 1 GB additional data) with a special voucher that takes care of IUC charges.

This will be the first time that Jio users will pay for voice calls. However, TRAI is looking to extend the termination, thus, Jio is looking to now recover some charges to pay out its competitors until IUC is permanently terminated in the coming months. The IUC charges will not be applicable on calls made by Jio users to anyone else via WhatsApp, FaceTime, and other such platforms.

IUC is paid by one operator to another, when its customers make outgoing mobile calls to the other operator's customers.

Thus, incumbent operators generate revenue at the rate of 6 paise per minute on calls terminating on their depreciated 2G networks. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had set the IUC charge which is at 6 paise per minute and now, Jio has imposed this new plan on its customers.

Notably, at the time of its launch, Reliance Jio had promised that voice calls from its network across the country will always be free. Two years ago, the sector regulator, had brought it down from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute and chose to scrap the charge from Jan 2020.

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