Update (August 7th, 2017): A Mumbai Magistrate court dismissed Jio’s complaint against Airtel for an Ookla ad which claimed Airtel to be “India’s fastest network, according to Economic Times. An Airtel spokesperson confirmed this in a statement to MediaNama: “We are grateful to the Hon’ble court for dismissing the frivolous allegations made against us,” the statement said.
The fight for the ‘fastest Internet provider’ tag continues at a time when the regulator still considers 512 Kbps as broadband.
Reliance Jio today filed a complaint against Bharti Airtel and speed test provider Ookla for an ad which claimed Airtel to be “India’s fastest network”, as per this Economic Times report. The complaint was filed in Metropolitan Magistrate, Esplanade, Mumbai. Jio also named Ziff Davis, a US based online publisher, the parent company of Ookla, in the complaint. Jio is yet to respond to our queries regarding the complaint.
Jio said in the complaint that it “lost reputation and money on the campaign that amounts to conspiracy, defamation and breach of trust, among others,” as per the report. It also accused Airtel and Ookla of “willfully, deliberately and knowingly” misleading the public. Jio alleged that Ookla sold speed test certification for $120,000 and charged a commission of 2-4x for telcos looking to promote their brand, suggesting that Ookla’s ad was manipulative.
Note that Jio had earlier taken up the same issue with the advertising regulator ASCI. ASCI then directed Airtel to withdraw these claims in April. But the copy of the Airtel-Ookla press release is still up on the Airtel website which was originally put up in March. The press release says that Ookla had presented an “award” to Airtel claiming that Airtel is “India’s fastest mobile network”. Jio had cried foul against the campaign, along with a complaint to ASCI in March.
Reacting to Reliance Jio’s complaint against it, an Airtel spokesperson said:
“We are amazed at the continued frivolous and baseless complaints made against Airtel by Reliance Jio. We have not yet received a copy of the said complaint and are not versant with the complete details. Bharti Airtel’s claim of being the fastest network is based on findings by Ookla…Ookla is widely regarded as the gold standard for network speed tests and Airtel’s use of Ookla’s findings has no relationship, whatsoever, with Reliance Jio…Such attempts (by Jio) only reflect the growing frustration of a competitor that has been unable to make a dent despite offering free services and predatory pricing.”
Jio v/s Airtel
Jio and Airtel have a history of legal cases, allegations against each other over a number of issues like:
- Internet speeds
- Allegations of regulatory violations,
- PoI blockades,
- Impartial voting rights at COAI
- Mergers and Acquisitions
Jio also had many legal battles involving other rivals as well:
- TRAI v/s Airtel, Idea (TDSAT) on allegations that Jio violated tariff regulations and that TRAI was a “mute spectator”.
- Vodafone v/s Jio and TRAI (Delhi HC) wherein Vodafone alleged that TRAI failed to keep a check on Jio and its free offers.
- Vodafone v/s TRAI (Delhi HC) challenging telecom regulator TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty. TRAI had imposed a combined fine of Rs 3050 crore on Airtel, Idea and Vodafone stating they were found to “willfully violate the license conditions” by denying interconnection points to Jio.
- CCI’s investigation into COAI after Jio complained about alleged anticompetitive practices committed by Airtel, Idea, Vodafone India and COAI.
- CCI had dismissed Airtel’s complaint against Jio in June 2017. Airtel alleged that Jio was involved in predatory pricing.