Aiming to check any possible churn owing to subscribers porting out because of the '6 paise per minute' charge on its voice calls, Reliance Jio on Monday came out with a set of four new tariff plans - Rs 222, Rs 333, Rs 444 and Rs 555, valid for 28 days, 56 days and 84 days (for the last two), respectively. The highlight of the plans is that the '6 paise' charge for calls made to other networks has been bundled in these plans so that subscribers do not have to go for top-ups to make such voice calls.
The plans work out to be cheaper than Bharti Airtel's unlimited voice- and data-bundled plans in similar categories. RJio said these new tariff plans come with 1,000 minutes of off-net termination charge minutes, which would have cost users Rs 80 if purchased separately. There's a catch though - once the 1,000 minutes are exhausted, under fair usage policy subscribers will have to top up by buying voice-calling vouchers. But the company said 1,000 minutes are the average talk time used by a subscriber while making outgoing calls.
The new plans also offer enhanced data - 56 GB, 112 GB and 168 GB, respectively.
The company came out with the new plans after scrapping two lower denomination plans - Rs 19 and Rs 52 - making the Rs 98 plan its lowest. Company officials said the Rs 19 plan had a one-day validity and Rs 52 plan had a seven-day validity. Industry sources said these plans were difficult to maintain in the light of the company’s decision to start charging the termination rate of 6 paise per minute for calls made to other networks like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Ever since the company made the announcement on October 9 of charging the termination rate from consumers, there has been a backlash from subscribers on the social media since at the launch in 2016 the company had said it will never charge for voice calls.
The new plans continue to work out cheaper than the existing voice- and data-bundled plans of the incumbent operators. For instance, Bharti's Rs 299 plan has a validity of 28 days and gives 2.5 GB data per day. Its Rs 249 plan also has a 28-day validity and comes with 2 GB data a day. It then has a Rs 448 plan with a validity of 82 days and 1.5 GB a day and Rs 499 valid for 82 days with 2 GB data a day.
Announcing on October 9 its decision to charge for termination rate for calls made to other networks, Jio had come out with IUC top-up vouchers in four denominations-Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, and Rs 100-which would entitle users with free data of 1, 2, 5, and 10 GB, respectively. For postpaid users, the charge for such calls would be adjusted in the monthly bills.
Jio had said since its launch in September 2016 it had to bear Rs 13,500 crore payment to Bharti and Vodafone Idea as termination charges. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had last reduced termination rate in September 2017 by a massive 57% to 6 paise per minute. Prior to it the rate was 14 paise per minute. At that time Trai had said it proposes that from January 2020 operators move to a regime of zero rate. However, it recently said since traffic imbalance is still high, it wants to review whether moving to zero termination charge is feasible, which prompted Jio to start charging for calls made to other networks since it is a net payer of the termination rate.