Reliance Jio today announced that it will offer free voice calls starting January 1, 2021 as interconnect usage charges (IUC) for all domestic voice calls comes to an end.
Reliance Jio, the telecom venture of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has more than 406.35 million mobile phone customers on its 4G network in India. Reliance Jio is the #1 telecom operator base on the number of mobile subscribers.
Reliance Jio reported voice traffic of 93,223 crore minutes during the quarter ended September 30, 2020.
Reliance Jio earlier said average wireless data consumption per user per month was 12 GB and average voice consumption was 776 minutes per user per month, with an increasing usage of application-based voice on data networks.
Reliance Jio reported revenue of Rs 18,496 crore during the quarter ended September 30, 2020.
A Jio statement said Bill and Keep regime will be implemented in the country from January 1, 2021, ending interconnect usage charges (IUC) for all domestic voice calls.
The industry is expecting quick response from rival telecoms such as BSNL, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Vodafone Idea responded to Jio plans.
“Vi customers have always enjoyed truly unlimited services with Vi Unlimited packs. Mobile customers recharging with Vi Unlimited packs can continue to call their friends and family across all networks without any embargo even on calls made to other networks,” Vodafone Idea spokesperson said.
“Vi customers have never had to take any additional IUC pack. Hence, Vi Unlimited packs remain truly unlimited. For all Vi Unlimited pack users, domestic calls to other networks anywhere in India, has always been free and will continue to be free 1st Jan 2021 onwards as well.”
Airtel, the second largest telecom operator in India, said it is delivering the best-in-class experience to its customers.
Airtel said its mobile customers already enjoy unlimited free calls to all networks with our prepaid bundles and postpaid plans that also offer large dollops of high speed data.
“In fact, Airtel has never charged its customers separately for IUC and the unlimited calling benefits will continue for our customers without any change,” Ajai Puri, COO, Bharti Airtel said in a statement on Friday.
“Honouring its commitment to revert off-net domestic voice-call charges to zero, as soon as IUC charges are abolished, Jio will once again make all off-net domestic voice calls free, starting 1st January 2021,” Jio said.
Jio said that on-net domestic voice calls have always been free on the Jio network.
In September 2019, when TRAI extended the timeline for implementation of the Bill & Keep regime beyond January 1, 2020 and Jio was left with no option but to start charging its customers for off-net voice calls, at a rate exactly equivalent to the applicable IUC charge.
While doing so, Reliance Jio had assured its users that this charge would continue only till the time TRAI abolished IUC charges. “Today, Jio has delivered on that promise and made off-net voice calls free again,” Reliance Jio said.