An advertisement for Bharti Airtel Ltd. is displayed inside a mobile phone store in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Reliance Jio Challenges Airtel’s Fastest Network Claim

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  • Telecom operator Reliance Jio has approached advertisement sector watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Bharti Airtel Ltd. 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 ASCI.

    When contacted, Airtel spokesperson said the telecom operator 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 advertisement. 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 (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and DoT (Department of Telecom) 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.