New Delhi: Reliance Jio, the nation's largest telecom operator by subscribers, on Thursday said calls by its users to other networks in India will become free from Friday when the so-called IUC regime ends.
At present, voice calls to rival networks are charged an interconnect usage charge (IUC). The IUC of 6 paise per minute was to make up for the cost incurred by the rival network for completing the call.
So, despite Jio charging its users for only data usages and keeping voice calls free, a 6 paise had to be paid to rivals such Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea whenever its users made a call to those networks.
The IUC regime, as per the sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), comes to an end from January 1, 2021.
Jio, in a statement noted that as per the telecom regulator's directions, 'Bill and Keep regime' is being implemented in the country from January 1, 2021, thereby ending IUC rates for all domestic voice calls.
"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. On-net domestic voice calls have always been free on the Jio network," it added.
Off-net calls refer to calls that terminate in other operators' networks.
The zero-IUC regime was previously slated to come into effect from January 2020, but then last year telecom regulator deferred its implementation till January 1, 2021.
IUC is a charge that is paid by a telco to another operator when its customers make voice calls to subscribers of that network, and these charges stood at 6 paise per minute.
"For context, in September 2019, when TRAI extended the timeline for implementation of the Bill & Keep regime beyond 1st January 2020, 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," Jio said.
Jio said that even while doing so, the company 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," the statement said adding that the company stood by its commitment to make the common Indian the beneficiary of advanced technologies like VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution).
Jio further said it is committed to lay the foundation of a digital society where everything, everyone, everywhere is connected with the best quality service, at the lowest price globally, and has access to the most advanced digital platforms.
"Through technological innovation, Jio will continue to deliver revolutionary products and services to its users, with a customer first approach," it said.