Indian advertising standards watchdog ASCI has upheld a complaint (pdf) brought to its notice against Reliance Jio where one of the telco’s ad claims its network to be the “Best 4G Network with lowest data rates globally”. ASCI, however, held that the claim is “misleading by ambiguity and implication of it being the best in the world.”

ASCI’s statements also come at a time when Reliance Jio and rival operator Airtel have been sparring over Internet speeds. Jio had complained in a letter to ASCI that an ad sponsored by speed test service Ookla was misleading since it claimed that Airtel’s network was fastest in India. The Ambani-led telco had also issued a legal notice to Ookla stating that the method used by Ookla “was completely flawed” and that “this has been accepted by Ooka in correspondence with us”.

Airtel immediately retracted stating that company was “amused by the allegations being made” against the Ookla-Airtel campaign by Jio. Airtel also added that Jio was trying to “malign our brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation.” On the other hand, Ookla told MediaNama that it has not received any legal notice or any form of legal communication from Reliance Jio. Ookla also denied that its speed test results were flawed and issued a clarifying statement upholding that Airtel was, in fact, the fastest operator in the country. More on this here.

The fight for the “fastest Internet” tag is absurd

The fight for the title “Fastest network in India” seems absurd as only 38% of the connections in India (broadband+mobile) were above the 4 Mbps threshold during Q4FY17, according to Akamai. Despite this, the country was still the 2nd lowest ranked in the Asia-Pacific region and overall 102nd in the world. On the other hand, India’s average mobile internet speed stood at 4.8 Mbps in Q4FY17. Comparatively, UK had the fastest average mobile connection speed of 26.8 Mbps.

TRAI’s speed test portal also shows that Jio’s average speed peaked at 17 Mbps during January, while Airtel’s average speed was just 8 Mbps at the same time. Comparing these results with UK’s average speed of 26 Mbps, both Jio and Airtel still got a lot of catching up to do, especially at a time when telco’s have been blocking each other’s Interconnection points, leading call drops and poor network quality.

Also, keep in mind that Jio had once opposed speed test results released by TRAI (in October 2016) which rated Jio’s average speed as the lowest in the country. Jio then put out a statement claiming that its average speeds on TRAI’s report appear to be lowest (6.2 Mbps) due to restrictions placed on download speeds after the FUP limit is exceeded by a user. Since Jio has started charging users, it’s likely that the speeds might change in the future.