The cliché Free Jio Calls won’t be free anymore. Jio is about to charge it’s customers for the first time since its inception in the country. Although Jio charged a basic amount for monthly membership subscription. However, now it will charge separately for connecting to other mobile phone networks.
In a recent, Jio has announced that it will charge 6 paise per minute for connecting calls of Jio users to other mobile phone networks such as Airtel, Idea, BSNL, Vodafone etc. Although the amount being charged is as good as negligible as you can make 10+ minute calls in just Rs. 1 with such minimal charges. Apart from this, Jio has also assured its customers that it will give away an extra 1 GB data for every Rs. 10 recharge made as a compensation reward.
This is for the first time since Jio’s launch in 2016 that Jio is charging extra money to make a call to non-jio mobile networks.
As per the explanation provided by Jio, the company is compelled to recover Interconnect Usage Charge or IUC for all non-Jio mobile voice calls. This means
However, call made from Jio-to-Jio route are still free, including incoming, outgoing & landline number plus WhatsApp, skype & other internet-based calling services as well. This means that voice calls made to by Jio users to another mobile operator like Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, etc will be charged.
Jio has to undertake this measure as the company has to pay a definite amount to other telecom operators to use their network during interconnect calls. Hence, customers will have to pay IUC charges until TRAI brings the interconnectivity fee down to zero rupees. The expected date is January 1, 2020, after which customers will again enjoy free calling service.
The New IUC Vouchers
Jio also doesn’t seem very happy with its own decision and hence, as a result, Jio has offered a plan to compensate for the loss of customers. Jio has issued an offer for every Rs. 10 recharge, customers will get an extra 1 GB of high-speed mobile data.
Applicable from next recharge post 10th October 2019, Jio users will have to buy additional IUC top-up vouchers apart from monthly Jio subscriptions. Different pre-paid vouchers have different values and benefits. A ₹10 voucher will give you 124 minutes of IUC Talktime to non-Jio mobiles and 1 GB of free data. Further, a ₹20 voucher will get you 249 minutes of IUC Talktime and 2GB free data. Similarly, a ₹50 voucher will give you 656 minutes of Talktime to non-Jio mobile phones and 5 GB of free data while the ₹100 voucher comes with 1,362 minutes of calls and 10 GB data. In short, Jio will give 1 GB free data for every ₹10 spent on IUC charges & approximately 125 minutes of talk time.
Apart from this, postpaid users will be billed at 6 paise per minute for off-net outgoing calls while getting extra free data for the amount charged.
Why IUC Charges?
Jio is not at all charging extra amount from the users than it is paying to other telcos. Jio currently pays 6 paise per minute to the telecom companies, which it is charging as it is from the customers.
Jio is a complete VoLTE network. However, as per the claims by Jio, it receives 25-30 crore missed calls daily by 2G mobile network users from Airtel & Vodafone-Idea. This costs 65-75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic to Jio. As a result, Jio had to pay nearly Rs 13,500 crore as net IUC charges to the other operators. This is why Jio is charging the amount from customers.
Two years ago in 2016, TRAI brought down IUC charges from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute. This was sought as TRAI’s move in a direction to scrap the charge from January 1, 2020. However, there are still millions of 2G subscribers who have not moved to VoLTE and hence TRAI recently decided to seek views on delaying zero IUC charges.
Jio- Zero, Other-One
These IUC charges are benefitting Airtel and Vodafone Idea as the 2G users exist in these two streams only as Jio being wholly VoLTe network. Hence, for every call, Jio had to pay 6 paise per minute to these operators. However, now Jio has started to recover this amount from customers, and this may not be the best option to do.
Expert analysts believe that Jio’s move will benefit rivals Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, which has been bleeding financially for the past few years due to the ultra-low tariffs offered by Jio. Now, Airtel and Vodafone-Idea may use this opportunity to hike voice rates, bringing an end to the tariff war.