After tariffs and who can offer more freebies to subscribers, telecom operators in India are now fighting over Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC). In simple terms, these charges are basically for the duration of time the phone is ringing when a number is dialled. IUC only applies when a voice call is made between two different operators and it doesn’t matter whether the other person receives the call or misses or disconnects it, the IUC charges gets bills. Recently, IUC made headlines when Airtel alleged that Reliance Jio has reduced its ring duration from 35-40 seconds to 25 seconds to pay lesser IUC. This meant Jio subscribers unknowingly were giving more missed calls to Airtel, Voda-Idea users due to shorter ring duration and lead to more return calls to Reliance Jio’s network, enabling Jio to earn IUC while reducing its costs. And this is what forced Reliance Jio to come up with an ‘IUC pack’. Here is everything you need to know
All Jio subscribers will now have to purchase an IUC top-up voucher along with their existing plan
It is mandatory and will automatically get added the moment you buy a recharge plan
There are four Jio IUC packs at Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100. This will be required to make calls to other operators
The Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 offer 124 minutes, 249, 656 and 1362 minutes of free IUC respectively. Basically, the customer has to pay the 6 paise per minute IUC now. The moment you call make a call to a user on another telecom operator, these minutes will get deducted. This translates to IUC of 6 paise per minute.
The IUC top-up packs will also provide free data to Jio subscribers
The Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 plans will give 1GB, 2GB, 5GB and 10GB of free data respectively.
Postpaid Jio users will be charged 6 paise per minute and there no packs
Post-paid customers will be billed at 6 paise per minute for off-net outgoing calls with increase in free data
All Jio-to-Jio, Jio to landline and incoming calls are free
Calls made using WhatsApp or FaceTime and similar platforms are also free.
Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) always existed and it is a major source of revenue for telecom operators in India
IUC is paid by a telecom carrier to the one on whose network the call terminates. This generates revenue for the company on whose network the call ends.
Telecom regulator Trai in 2017 had slashed IUC from14 paise per minute to 6 paise
Trai was expected to end IUC altogether by January 2020 but this plan is now placed on hold
Trai had earlier said this IUC regime will end by January 2020. But it has now floated a consultation paper to review whether the regime timeline needs to be extended.
Jio claims it has paid Rs 13,500 crore as NET IUC charges to the other operators in three last years
As Jio is only a 4G network, Airtel and Voda-Idea offers 2G as well. There are still 35 – 40 crore 2G customers, claims Jio
Jio claims that while Airtel, Voda-Idea reduced voice tariffs for their 4G customers, they continued to charge high tariffs for their 2G customers to around Rs. 1.50/ minute. According to Jio, “the price differential of free voice on Jio network and exorbitantly high tariffs on 2G networks causes the 35 – 40 crore 2G customers of Airtel and Vodafone-Idea to give missed calls to Jio customers. Jio network receives 25 to 30 crore missed calls on a daily basis.”