The Reliance Jio and Airtel spat over the latter’s claim for having the “fastest 4G network” in the country finally has a conclusion. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has ordered Airtel to withdraw the TVC and the website advertisement by 11th April 2017. The complaint registered by Reliance Jio was reviewed on 29th March and the Fast Track Complaints Committee (FTCC) found quite a few contradictions leading to this decision.
As stated by the FTCC, the Airtel TVC fails to clearly state a few of the Terms and Conditions mentioned on its website. One of these is the fact that the speed results account for only a specific period i.e. Q3-Q4 2016. Furthermore, the commercial doesn’t equally favor both the competing networks and in fact, shows poor signal strength for the other service provider during the speed comparison scene. Additionally, Airtel says that the advertisement is not solely about the 4G technology, whereas the TVC has visuals only with reference to 4G. Hence, the board came to a result which holds the TVC misleading by ambiguity and implication.
FTCC’s claims also included questions regarding the certificate issued by Ookla as it doesn’t state any methodology which verifies the robustness of their tests based on the wide range of geographies and consumers. Moreover, based on what data is available on TRAI’s official website, FTCC stated there’s a significant gap between Geographical dispersion of Airtel and Jio 4G subscribers and therefore, the comparison is considered largely biased towards Airtel. Additionally, as there’s no involvement of any official government organization or “recognized authority” such as TRAI itself, FTCC says the commercial “exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge.”
Based on these conflicts, FTCC has legally ordered Airtel to either appropriately modify or withdraw the advertisement completely by 11th April 2017.
Update: Airtel has released a statement saying they do not agree with ASCI’s decision.
We do not agree with ASCI’s decision and will file an appeal as per guidelines. Our campaign is based on findings by Ookla – the globally recognised leader in mobile speed tests and also a benchmark for reputed global operators. We have shared all supporting facts with ASCI and strongly believe that our campaign is compliant with all guidelines. We will be happy to provide more details, if required, and hope ASCI will reconsider its decision.
Ookla, the company behind Speedtest claims that Airtel is STILL the fastest network as per 2017 data.
Ookla fully stands behind the accuracy and reliability of the methodology used to designate Airtel as ‘India’s Fastest Mobile Network’. The award designation was validated using the IP methodology described above for all Speedtest results during the last 6 months of 2016 (Q3 & Q4). When analyzing the data for all of 2016, Airtel was still the clear leader. When analyzing data for 2017 to date, Airtel is still the clear leader. It is worth noting that after correcting for the Android limitation, Airtel’s lead over Jio increases for all aforementioned date ranges.