To say the telecom industry in India is highly competitive would be an understatement. Things only heated up further with the entry of a major new player, Reliance Jio, last year. From moving regulators to halt promotional campaigns to releasing competitive plans to match rivals, each week sees a plethora of moves that try to rebalance the status quo. Enter the latest controversy - Reliance Jio appealing to the ASCI that Airtel's use of Ookla's fastest mobile network rating in advertisements is misleading.
Reliance Jio on Monday filed a complaint against Airtel's ad campaign with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), alleging that Ookla's recently published claim that Airtel has the 'Fastest Mobile Network for 2016' is "false, misleading, and incorrect."
Jio in its complaint to ASCI noted that Ookla has no accreditation from the Indian government. The operator added that Ookla isn't a non-profit organisation and is in fact colluding with Airtel. Jio also said that it has served Ookla legal notice for its "flawed test". Despite that, Jio claims, the mention of the award in Airtel's current advertising materials misleads the public. Jio said "the way the award is being projected misleads the public into believing that Airtel has the fastest network today, that is when the advertisements are being aired/published."
As would be expected, both Airtel and Ookla have responded to Reliance Jio's now much-publicised complaint to ASCI.
Ookla, the company behind popular network testing tool Speedtest, defended its testing methods and data. It said it "fully stands behind Airtel being named 'India's Fastest Mobile Network'". In a separate mailed statement to Gadgets 360, the company added, "We've also seen that Jio has made comments that Speedtest has knowingly released 'misleading results' and that they have served us with 'legal notice'. Both of these statements are absolutely false and we have received no legal communication from Jio."
Airtel in the meanwhile said it is "rather amused by the allegations being made against [its] campaign", claiming Jio's allegations are a "deliberate attempt to malign [its] brand and misguide consumers through a campaign of misinformation."
You can read Ookla's and Airtel's complete statements in their entirety below.
Ookla fully stands behind Airtel being named "India's Fastest Mobile Network"
Ookla named Airtel as the "Fastest Mobile Network" in India based on data from Q3 and Q4 of 2016. When analyzing 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 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". India is a dynamic market with a rapidly changing mobile landscape and we look forward to seeing how the market develops.
Jamie Steven, COO, Speedtest by Ookla
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 recognized 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 employs the best of data analytics.
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.
Rajiv Mathrani, Chief Brand Officer, Bharti Airtel