Reliance Jio announced on Thursday that it would again make off-net domestic calls in its network for free from January 1, 2021. The operator will resume its previous practice over a year after starting charging its subscribers at 6 Paise per minute. Calls to other cellular networks. The new decision arose from the “Bill and Keep” regime that India’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRAI) will implement in the country from January 1st, ending the IUC charges for all domestic voice calls.
With the update, Jio subscribers can make free voice calls to any cellular network in the country – just like any other telecommunications company. This is likely to increase competition for other telecommunications companies like Airtel and Vi (formerly Vodafone Idea) as Jio can offer more competitive top-up plans. Jio also no longer charges other operators for terminating voice calls from their network.
In September 2019, the TRAI extended the schedule for the implementation of the Bill and Keep regime beyond January 1, 2020. This extension resulted in the introduction of Jio’s outbound call charge for other cellular networks of six Paise in October last year.
Jio at the time claimed that almost Rs had been paid due to the IUC that operators had to pay to activate off-net voice calls on their networks. 13,500 crores to other operators in the last three years. It was also mentioned that after the introduction of connection charges in 2017, other telecommunications companies continued to charge “exorbitant tariffs” and increased their tariffs for voice calls to around Rs. 1.50 per minute.
However, unlike Jio, other operators preferred IUC as it turned out to be one of their main sources of income. A large number of Jio users also criticized the telecommunications company’s move to charge for voice calls. It tried to allay criticism by issuing special IUC coupons after charges for voice calls were announced on its network last year for off-network calls.
It is important to note that while Jio began charging users to make voice calls to other networks, they continued to offer free Jio-to-Jio voice calls thanks to the VoIP support on their network.
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