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Escalating ad war: Jio and Airtel slug it out on who is ‘India’s fastest network’

Jio has also sent a legal notice to Ookla for certifying Airtel as ‘India’s fastest network’ and has asked it to revoke the statement. Airtel counters that this is a deliberate attempt to malign its brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation

Escalating ad war: Jio and Airtel slug it out on who is ‘India’s fastest network’

Jio has also sent a legal notice to Ookla for certifying Airtel as ‘India’s fastest network’ and has asked it to revoke the statement. Airtel counters that this is a deliberate attempt to malign its brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 23, 2017


The war between telecom majors Reliance Jio and Airtel has escalated. Reliance Jio has filed a complaint with ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) against Airtel’s latest ad claiming to be the ‘India’s fastest mobile network’.

Ookla, the broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications, recently rated Bharti Airtel as the fastest telecom network in India and to celebrate that, Airtel came out with a campaign claiming to India’s official fastest network.

In the complaints registered by Jio to ASCI, they have called Airtel’s ad as “misleading and incorrect”. Jio also wrote in the complaints that ‘the claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla.

Reliance Jio has also sent a legal notice to Ookla through their lawyer Khaitan and Company on March 20, 2017, stating the methodology used to calculate is inappropriate and misleading.

The complaint, a copy of which BestMediaInfo has, also states that the use of ‘Officially’ in the advertisement is “Deceiving” and “Links the term to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory  Authority of India” and DOT (Department of Telecom) in the minds of general public.

In the complaint registered with ASCI, Jio has requested the advertising watchdog to take necessary action in this regard.

Srinivasan K Swamy Srinivasan K Swamy

Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman, ASCI, told BestMediaInfo, “We have received a complaint from RJIL and this will be put before CCC for a decision soon.”

The Reliance Jio spokesperson said, “The core issue is that the speed test results are attributed to the primary sim even though the sim for which the data speed test is conducted is the secondary sim in the case of dual-sim phones. In India, more than 90 per cent of 4G phones are dual-sim. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the speed which is attributed to Airtel is of the Airtel data network.”

The Jio spokesperson added, “We are surprised that Ookla in its press release has not talked about this issue even though they had acknowledged the blunder to us earlier. Ookla has baldly stated that they stand by their results and has skirted the main issue. We will initiate actions as we deem fit at appropriate forums. The public should not be misled by these false claims based on the Ookla results.”

In the legal notice sent to Ookla, Khaitan and Company on behalf of Jio has asked them to revoke this statement of “Airtel being fastest network” from all the places and declare it to be incorrect. They have also asked to publish an apology on front pages of leading newspapers on the same lines. The legal advisor went on saying in the notice that if any action is not taken within seven days’ time frame then Jio will have to take strict actions against Ookla.

Countering Jio’s complaint and putting his side story forward, Rajiv Mathrani, Chief Brand Officer, Bharti Airtel, said, “We are rather amused by the allegations being made against our campaign. We believe that this is a deliberate attempt to malign our brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation, which is something we now come across on a regular basis, in particular, on social media platforms.”

On its part, Ookla is not budging. In an official statement, Ookla said, “Data accuracy and neutrality is of the utmost importance to Ookla and the company goes to great lengths to ensure that the information collected on any Speedtest internet test is verifiably correct. Ookla fully stands behind the accuracy and reliability of the methodology used to designate Airtel as ‘India’s Fastest Mobile Network’.”

Mathrani further said, “Airtel is one of the most trusted and admired brands in India. We also pride ourselves in maintaining the highest standards of governance and transparency and have been recognised by globally reputed institutions like Transparency International. Our latest advertising campaign is based on the findings by Ookla, the global leader in Speed test and internet diagnostics. Ookla’s findings are based on rigorous and extensive testing across millions of devices and employ the best of data analytics.”

Ookla further went on explaining in the statement, “Much of the commentary has focused on dual SIM devices. The carrier displayed in the Speedtest Android application is based on the ‘Active Carrier’ value returned by the device. Due to limitations of the Android platform, the ‘Active Carrier’ does not always indicate the actual data provider in devices with multiple SIMs. In these situations, Ookla applies additional data sources and mechanisms during postprocessing to help determine the actual data carrier being tested. For example, Ookla matches the connection IP address recorded during the test to known carrier IP blocks. This enables Ookla to determine the actual data carrier with a high degree of confidence. Airtel’s margin of victory increased when the complete analysis was performed.”

Jamie Steven, COO, Speedtest by Ookla, said, “Ookla named Airtel as the ‘Fastest Mobile Network’ in India based on data from Q3 and Q4 of 2016. When analysing markets like India, we take many factors into consideration, including dual SIM devices, network technology, device types, and more. In addition to what the user sees on their mobile application as they take a test in real-time, we apply a rigorous methodology when aggregating the data which uses a variety of internal data sources that control for potential variability in the market.”

“We are always improving how additional information is collected and analysed through our Speedtest applications to allow Ookla to accurately reflect internet performance. We have taken dual SIM information into consideration and fully stand behind Airtel being named “India’s Fastest Mobile Network”. India is a dynamic market with a rapidly changing mobile landscape and we look forward to seeing how the market develops,” added Steven.

One needs to wait and watch that would ASCI take any action? Would the telecom war continue in ads with Jio launching something to counter Airtel? And at the end, would Airtel actually have to take the ad off the public domain. Interesting times ahead!

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