Just hours after Reliance Jio announced that they will be charging an Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC) from customers for calls they make outside the Jio network, Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) has responded saying they have no such intention of separately billing their users for calls made outside the Vodafone Idea network. Vodafone Idea says they do not want to burden customers with the task of identifying whether the call they are making is on-net or off-net, every time they decide to make a call. Vodafone Idea says all their subscription plans for prepaid and postpaid users on Vodafone and Idea do not distinguish between calls made within the Vodafone Idea network or to other mobile networks. Reliance Jio had yesterday that they would charge customers Rs 0.06 per minute towards IUC charges for calls made outside the Jio network.
“The announcement by one of the telecom service providers today to charge for calls made to other service providers to cover the termination charge of IUC is not only an action of undue haste but it also does not bring out the fact that interconnect is a settlement between operators and not a consumer pricing matter. In our view, its TRAI’s call for a consultation on IUC keeping in mind the continuing asymmetry in traffic and in line with its earlier stated position on the matter,” says Vodafone Idea in a statement shared with News18. The important point here is that Vodafone Idea seems to be indicating that the IUC charge is something that mobile operators work out within themselves, as per the regulatory definition set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). It is not something consumers should have to worry about.
“This announcement comes closely to the action taken recently to potentially hurt revenues of other operators with its recent unilateral action of reducing ringing time,” Vodafone Idea statement also adds.
Vodafone Idea insists that it is offering 2G, 3G and 4G services to customers across India. They say that even now, more than 50% of mobile users in India still use the 2G network on their feature phones. “We service them in remote parts of the country even when it is unprofitable for us to do so,” says the company.
Vodafone Idea also insists that more than 60% of their customers are in the low-spends bracket, and they don’t want to burden them with the additional requirement for additional top-up packs for calls to other networks. At the moment, a Vodafone prepaid user needs to do a recharge of Rs 24 which has a validity of 28 days, to keep their mobile connection active. Vodafone Idea has plans starting as low as Rs 119 with a validity of 28 days, which offer unlimited local and STD calls as well as 1GB data. Reliance Jio had announced that they are launching additional to-up packs starting Rs 10 for bundling calls to other networks, as well as additional data.