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    The Government has given a clean chit to Reliance Jio’s free voice call offers. Responding to a query, Telecom Minister Mr. Manoj Sinha said that Mukesh Abmani-owned mobile phone operator did not violate any of the rules by offering voice services free of charge.

    The incumbent telecom service providers (Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea and Telenor) petitioned the Ministry and TRAI that Reliance Jio was violating the Telecom Tariff Order (TTO) of 2004 by offering services below the minimum interconnect rates of 14 paise a minute. The telcos had argued that the Reliance Jio plans were not Interconnection Usage Charge (IUC) compliant.

    A Clean Chit for Reliance Jio:

    Replying to a question in Parliament on day 1 of the Winter Session by Odisha MP Tathagata Satpathy, the Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said, “Since the guidelines/NIA for allocation or auction of spectrum do not prescribe the rates at which services are to be provided to customers, the question of violation of guidelines for spectrum allocation does not arise.”

    The Ministry further added that the present tariff regime was based in the principles of forbearance. This allows great flexibility to market players to enable them to decide various tariff plans or products for different services. Tariffs can therefore be offered by telcos to counter the competitive tariffs of their competitors or any other prevailing market conditions.

    Reliance Jio a Game-changer:

    The Government held that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) keeps a close watch on the telecom tariffs being offered in the market and intervenes, if required, to ensure that the regulatory guidelines are met. Incidentally, TRAI has also given clean chit that Reliance Jio has not violated any orders and the tariff plans cannot be considered as IUC non-complaint and discriminatory.

    With both the government and TRAI giving a clean chit to the telecom arm of Reliance Industries Ltd, it is evident that the free voice calls across India announced by Reliance Jio will be a game changer for the Indian telecom industry.

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