Since the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in September last year, India’s leading telecom incumbents – Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone – have been hemorrhaging subscribers, revenue, and profits. But even in their darkest days of misery, they had one silver lining—every time a Jio subscriber called one of their own, their cash registers rang up 14 paise ($.002). This was the “interconnect usage charge” (IUC) that any wireless operator in India has to pay its peer for “terminating” a call on the latter’s network.
On first glance the amount looks too small to matter. Till you realize the incumbents have over 650 million subscribers between them.