3 years after Mukesh Ambani said Jio customers will ‘never’ have to pay for voice calls, company announces tariff for voice calls to rival networks


Three years after announcing that Jio customers will never have to pay for voice calls to any network in India, the mobile company owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance on Wednesday said that it will now charge its customers 6 paise per minute for voice calls made to rival networks.

Announcing the launch of Reliance Jio in September 2016, Mukesh Ambani had said, “No Jio customer will ever pay for voice calls to any network in India.” However, on Wednesday, Reliance Jio said in a statement that its customers will have to pay 6 paise for calls made to other networks. The company said that it will compensate them by giving free data of equal value.

New charges will not be applicable on calls made by Jio users to other Jio phones and to landline phones and calls made using WhatsApp, FaceTime and other such platforms. Incoming calls from all networks will continue to be free.

The 6 paise charge will remain in force until the Indian telecom watchdog TRAI formulates a new policy on what’s known as interconnect usage charge (IUC). The TRAI in 2017 had fixed the IUC charge at 6 paise per minute. Reliance Jio said that since it was not charging its customers, the company has had to pay nearly Rs 13,500 crore to rival operators such as Airtel and Vodafone as net IUC charges on behalf of its customers.

“The amendment to the IUC Regulations in 2017 was after considerable deliberations and consultations…the (new) consultation paper has created regulatory uncertainty and therefore Jio has been compelled, most reluctantly and unavoidably, to recover this regulatory charge of 6 paise per minute for all off-net mobile voice calls so long as IUC charges exist,” Jio said in a statement.

The TRAI had said that the IUC charges regime will end in January 2020. However, the telecom regulator has once again floated a consultation paper asking if this regime needs to continue even in the future. Jio’s net IUC costs stood at nearly Rs 851 crore in the June quarter.