Reliance Jio Infocomm, on Thursday, announced that voice calls made by Jio subscribers to competing networks within India will be free from 1 January. By market share, Reliance Jio is India’s largest mobile operator. The move to stop charging for calls comes at the backdrop of telecom regulator mandating that telcos won’t be required to pay termination charges to rival networks beginning 1 January. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had set the termination fee at 6 paise per minute till 31 December. Under Trai’s bill-and-keep regime, telecom operators do not need to pay termination charges to each other.
Jio informed that it was compelled to charge its customers for off-network voice calls at a rate equivalent to the applicable IUC. This was because Trai postponed the execution of zero IUC regime by a year till 31 December 2020. As per many experts, the revenue impact for Reliance Jio would be “trivial” as it already offers 1,000 minutes free off-network calls to its users. According to a RIL statement, while doing that, Jio had guaranteed its customers that this charge would remain only till the time Trai abolished IUC.
In September 2016, Reliance Jio was introduced. After that, India’s telecom sector went through huge disruption with the telco’s almost free voice and data services. Its offers helped it gain a major portion of the market. Apart from this, it also caused a situation of shrinking revenues and mounting debt for rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd. This news will prove to be a nightmare for competitors.