Reliance Jio has decided to charge six paise per minute from its 30 crore plus mobile phone customers making calls to subscribers of other mobile operators.
The mobile operator, which started offering free voice services to its 4G subscribers from September 2016, has more than 300 million customers.
Phone calls within Jio network and to landline phones will remain to be available at zero cost, calls to other mobile operators including Airtel, BSNL, MTNL and Vodafone Idea will be charged at six paise.
Jio said it has been forced to impose a fee due to the Interconnect Usage Charge, which it has to pay to other operators. Jio said it was paying this fee to other players from its account on behalf of the users.
Jio has paid nearly Rs 13,500 crore as NET IUC charges to the other operators in the last three years, the Mukesh Ambani-promoted company said on Wednesday.
While the incumbent operators reduced voice tariffs for their 4G customers, they continued to charge high tariffs to their 35 – 40 crore 2G customers. They increased the tariffs for voice calls to around Rs 1.50 percent minute. They also charge a minimum of Rs 500 / GB for data from their 2G customers, Reliance Jio said.
The price differential of free voice on Jio network and high tariffs on 2G networks causes 35 – 40 crore 2G customers on Airtel and Vodafone Idea to give missed voice calls to Reliance Jio customers. Jio network receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis.
This huge missed call phenomena converts the incoming calls to Jio into outgoing calls from Jio to other operators. The 25 to 30 crore missed calls per day should have resulted in 65 to 75 crore minutes of incoming traffic to Jio. The call back made by Jio customers results in 65 to 75 crore minutes of outgoing traffic.
Reliance Jio said calls made to other mobile operators will be charged at the prevailing IUC rate of 6 paise per minute through IUC top-up vouchers till such time that TRAI moves to Zero termination charge regime expected on January 1, 2020.