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Jio cries foul over Airtel-Ookla campaign; Airtel is ‘amused’ by Jio’s complaint

In an extraordinary move, Reliance Jio has written to India’s advertising standards watchdog ASCI stating that “the claim of Airtel that it is India’s fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect.” The development was first reported by ET; MediaNama reviewed a copy of the letter. Recently, Airtel put out a press statement saying that the popular speed test service Ookla has rated it as “India’s fastest mobile network”. Airtel also claimed that “Ookla’s findings are based on analysis of millions of internet speed tests (done) by mobile customers across India using its (Ookla’s) Speedtest app. The results include all mobile tests, regardless of connection technology.”

However, Reliance Jio is crying foul over these claims. “This claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla, who profess to be experts in the domain space of testing mobile Internet speed,” Jio said in its letter to ASCI. The Ambani-led telco has 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”. In addition, Jio claimed that Ookla itself “represented to RJIL that RJIL’s network was the fastest in Q2 and Q3 of 2016”.

Jio also pointed out that the claims in the advertisement “Officially The Fastest Network” makes it read to the public as if the authorities (DoT, TRAI) themselves has awarded the recognition. “They (Ookla) do not have 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 minds of the general public,” Jio said. It also said that since Airtel is a dominant player in the market, it can gain “undue advantage” by using such words and implications. “Thus Airtel has willfully, deliberately and knowingly misled the Indian Public,” Jio added.

“Amused by allegations being made against our campaign”: Airtel

Rajiv Mathrani, Chief Brand Officer for Airtel said in a statement referring to Jio that the company is “amused by the allegations being made” against the Ookla-Airtel campaign. ”We believe that this is a deliberate attempt to malign our brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation,” Mathrani added. He also pointed out that Ookla’s findings are based on “rigorous and extensive testing across millions of devices and employs the best of data analytics.”

Ookla has also sided with Airtel. In a statement, the speed test provider said that the claim of Airtel being the “Fastest Mobile Network” in India was based on data taken during Q3 and Q4 of 2016. Ookla explained that it examined multiple factors while equating the final results including “dual SIM devices, network technology, device types, and more”.

“We are always improving how additional information is collected and analyzed 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,” Ookla added.

Jio had earlier opposed TRAI’s speed test results

In an almost similar development last year, Jio had opposed speed test results released by telecom regulator 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.

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