Airtel's 'fastest network' claim misleading: Jio to ASCI

Telecom operator Reliance Jio has approached advertisement sector watchdog ASCI against Bharti Airtel saying the latter's claim of being "officially the fastest network" is "misleading" and done in "mala fide manner in collusion with" broadband speed tester Ookla.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 20, 2017, 20:56 PM IST
Airtel's 'fastest network' claim misleading: Jio to ASCI

New Delhi: Telecom operator Reliance Jio has approached advertisement sector watchdog ASCI against Bharti Airtel saying the latter's claim of being "officially the fastest network" is "misleading" and done in "mala fide manner in collusion with" broadband speed tester Ookla.

"The claim of Airtel that it is India's fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. This claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla, LLC," Jio said in its complaint filed before The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

When contacted, Airtel spokesperson said Airtel has been rated as India's fastest mobile network by Ookla - the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications.

"This is clearly mentioned in the ad. Ookla's findings are based on analysis of millions of internet speed tests logged on 'modern devices' by mobile customers across India using its popular Speedtest app. The results include all mobile tests, regardless of connection technology," the Airtel spokesperson said.

The Mukesh Ambani-led firm has alleged that Ookla, the owner of Speedtest application, charges money for giving such awards and the company has also approached Jio for the same for the very quarter it issued certificate of fastest mobile network to Bharti Airtel.

In a legal notice to Ookla, Jio said it was informed by the broadband testing company that Jio's network was the fastest mobile network in India and can be given the tag of fastest network in India which Jio can use leveraging Ookla's brand but Ookla will "charge substantial sums of money for this purpose and especially for publicly using the award and test results".

"You purportedly issued a certificate dated February 24, 2017 to Bharti Airtel...Certifying their network to be India's fastest mobile carrier for the same period," Jio notice to Ookla said.

Jio said the methodology used by Ookla attributes speed result to sim used in the primary slot of mobile phones even if Jio sim delivering high speed has been used in the secondary slot.

Reliance Jio alleged that Airtel has deliberately used word "Officially" in its advertisement to "deceive" Indian mobile consumers as Ookla, LLC is a commercial enterprise who give awards for money and do not have any accreditation from the government of India.

"The word "officially' when used in the context of telecom services is linked to only Trai and DoT in the minds of general public. The use of this word deceives the telecom consumer into believing that the certification is from the the telecom regulator namely Trai or the licensor namely DoT," Jio said.  

Jio said that Airtel as a dominant player in the Indian telecom market for the last 22 years cannot plead ignorance to the implication of undue advantage it will gain by use of such word.

"Airtel has wilfully, deliberately and knowingly misled the Indian public," Jio alleged.

Reliance Jio has asked ASCI to ask Airtel to withdraw the subject advertisement and any related advertisement claiming themselves to be India's fastest mobile telecom network, cease and desist from using the word "official" and withdraw any reference to Ookla or Speed test in all advertising or promotional material.

Ookla in its letter to Bharti Airtel on February 28 had said "Ookla is pleased to announce that Airtel is the winner of Speed test by Ookla's fastest Mobile Carrier Award in India.

The award certifies that Airtel achieved the fastest mobile network speeds in India from consumer initiated speed test results in Q3 and Q4 of 2016, it said.