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Reliance Jio stops free voice calls; users will need to buy top up vouchers to call non-Jio mobiles

FE Online

Reliance Jio has ended free outgoing voice calls for its prepaid and postpaid mobile phone users. Beginning today, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio will charge an interconnect fees from Jio mobile phone users for calls made to non-Jio mobile phones, the company said in a statement. All incoming calls to Jio mobiles, all outgoing calls from Jio to Jio mobiles, and all outgoing calls from Jio mobiles to landline phones continue to be free of charge, it said. Reliance Jio has taken this step in order to recover the interconnect usage charge that the company pays to the other operator for every outgoing mobile phone call. The company had to bear the Rs 13,500 crore payment made to rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea since voice calls on its network are free, Jio said.

Jio mobile customers will now need to pay a charge of 6 paise per minute on outgoing off-net mobile calls, but only till the time telecom regulator TRAI shifts to zero termination charge regime, Reliance Jio said. So far, Jio provided its subscribers free mobile voice calls to other operators. So far, Jio customers bought and paid for monthly or longer duration data bundle packs, with free voice calls. IUC is the cost that is paid by one mobile telecom operator to the another when its susbcriber makes outgoing mobile calls to the customer of the other operator.

How it will work

Jio prepaid customers will need to buy the newly-launched IUC top-up vouchers of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 depending on their requirements, it said. The top-up vouchers will also offer equivalent minutes and free data. For example, the Rs 10 voucher will allow 124 minutes of outgoing calls to non-Jio mobiles, along with 1 GB additional data; Rs 20 voucher will give 249 minutes with 2 GB data; Rs 50 voucher will give 656 minutes with 5 GB data, and; Rs 100 voucher will give 1,362 minutes with 10 GB data. Jio postpaid users will be billed at 6 paise per minute more for all outgoing calls to non-Jio mobiles, with equivalent additional data.

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Reliance said that the charge is temporary and will be removed when the IUC regime moves to zero. "For all the recharges done by Jio customers starting today, 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," it added. Once this temporary charge comes to an end, the consumers will not have to pay this charge thereafter, Reliance Jio added. "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 added.

Ring, Ring: Pick up the phone

According to the current regulation by TRAI, the zero termination charge regime will kick in from January 1, 2020. Reliance Jio recently asked TRAI to abstain from mandating a specific duration for calls to ring, and said the matter should be kept under forbearance as "there is no need for any regulatory intervention".