Mobile phone calls have to ring for at least 30 seconds, stated the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday in an amendment on the standards of quality of service. This comes after a feud between multiple telecom operators led to both Reliance Jio and Airtel reducing their call ring duration to 25 seconds.
“The time duration of alert for an incoming voice call, which is neither answered nor rejected by the called party, shall be thirty seconds for Cellular Mobile Telephone Service and sixty seconds for Basic Telephone Service,” the amendment stated.
Till now, there was no upper or lower limit in the country, and on average, ring times ranged from 30 seconds to 45 seconds. These charges are paid per minute, and from 2017 onwards, this charge was Rs 0.06 for each minute.
Jio, which offered free unlimited calls until very recently, said that because of this, they received a high number of missed calls and hence ended up paying over Rs 13,000 crore in IUC (Interconnect Usage Charge) to other networks. Therefore, they decided to terminate calls in 20 seconds if that went unanswered. After outrage, this was raised to 25 seconds.
Airtel and Vodafone-Idea alleged that Jio was tricking the IUC by reducing outgoing call ring time to 20 seconds, but Jio alleged that Airtel and Vodafone are gaming the IUC regime by charging their 2G/3G customers high voice tariffs, as these customers are not able to move to the efficient 4G operator owing to lack of a compatible device. Reliance Jio is the only operator in the country which has a 4G-only network. All other telcos have 2G and 3G as well. As of June end, Jio’s outgoing traffic was 64% of its total calls made.
IUCs were initially supposed to be made zero from January 2020, under the assumption that the market would even itself out by this time. Since that is not the case, TRAI put out a consultation paper to see if there was a need to defer this date. After TRAI received information that one operator has reduced the duration of the ring time to 20 seconds in its network for releasing the unanswered calls forcibly, TRAI issued a discussion paper on what the ideal call ringing time should be.
While there is no clarity on IUC being removed, Jio announced that calls to rival networks would be charged at Rs 0.06/min till IUC is removed, which was met with widespread outrage.