Telecom operator Reliance Jio has approached advertisement sector watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Bharti Airtel saying the latter's claim of being "officially the fastest network" is "misleading" and done in "mala fide manner in collusion with" broadband speed tester Ookla.
"The claim of Airtel that it is India's fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. This claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla, LLC," Jio said in its complaint filed before ASCI.
When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said that Airtel has been rated as India's fastest mobile network by Ookla, the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications.
"This is clearly mentioned in the ad. Ookla's findings are based on analysis of millions of internet speed tests logged on 'modern devices' by mobile customers across India using its popular Speedtest app. The results include all mobile tests, regardless of connection technology," the Airtel spokesperson said.
The Mukesh Ambani-led firm has alleged that Ookla, the owner of the Speedtest application, charges money for giving such awards and the company has also approached Jio for the same for the very quarter it issued its certificate of fastest mobile network to Bharti Airtel.
In a legal notice to Ookla, Jio said it was informed by the broadband testing company that Jio's network was the fastest mobile network in India and could be given the tag of the fastest network in India. Which Jio could subsequently use, leveraging Ookla's brand. However, Ookla would "charge substantial sums of money for this purpose and especially for publicly using the award and test results".
"You purportedly issued a certificate dated February 24, 2017, to Bharti Airtel... Certifying their network to be India's fastest mobile carrier for the same period," Jio's notice to Ookla said.
Jio said that the methodology used by Ookla attributes the speed result to the sim used in the primary slot of mobile phones even if a Jio sim, which is delivering the high speed, has been used in the secondary slot.
Reliance Jio alleged that Airtel has deliberately used the word "officially" in its advertisement to "deceive" Indian mobile consumers as Ookla, LLC is a commercial enterprise which gives awards for money and does not have any accreditation from the government of India.
"The word "officially' when used in the context of telecom services is linked to only Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and DoT (Department of Telecommunications) in the minds of general public. The use of this word deceives the telecom consumer into believing that the certification is from the the telecom regulator namely Trai or the licensor namely DoT," Jio said.
Jio also said that Airtel, as a dominant player in the Indian telecom market for the last 22 years, cannot plead ignorance of the implication of undue advantage it would gain by the use of such a word. "Airtel has wilfully, deliberately and knowingly misled the Indian public," Jio alleged.
Reliance Jio has asked ASCI to ask Airtel to withdraw the subject advertisement and any related advertisement claiming themselves to be India's fastest mobile telecom network, cease and desist from using the word "official" and withdraw any reference to Ookla or Speed test in all advertising or promotional material.
Ookla, in its letter to Bharti Airtel on February 28, had said that "Ookla is pleased to announce that Airtel is the winner of Speed test by Ookla's fastest Mobile Carrier Award in India".
The award certifies that Airtel achieved the fastest mobile network speeds in India from consumer initiated speed test results in Q3 and Q4 of 2016, it said.