The speed test fight deepens between Reliance Jio and Airtel, as Ookla stands by its results

By : |March 21, 2017 0

Reliance Jio’s official entry on the Indian telecom landscape resulted in tariff and data wars amongst the incumbents to retain their user base. The telcos have been coming up with lucrative data plans to compete with Jio’s kitty of unending offers.

In a still better move, the incumbent operators are now adopting a stronger strategy of cashing in on better network coverage which happens to be one of the loose points of Reliance Jio.

Airtel’s fastest network ad campaign citing Ookla’s speed test has caused problems between Ookla and Reliance Jio. Differing from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) speed test result, which Reliance Jio topped recently, Ookla’s popular speed test app results have awarded Airtel as India’s ‘Fastest Mobile Network for 2016.’

Based on consumer-initiated speed test results in Q3 and Q4 of 2016, Ookla, a company that tests network speeds, using speed test, awarded Airtel, the fastest mobile carrier award in February. Post this recognition, Airtel has been heavily advertising its superior mobile internet speed across platforms.

Reliance Jio has filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), requesting it to take action against the new Airtel advertisement, which claims it is ‘officially India’s fastest network.’ The telecom operator has also asked Airtel to take the ad down.

“The claim of Airtel that it is India’s fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. The claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla LLC, who profess to be experts in the domain space of testing mobile Internet speed,” reads the letter sent by Reliance Jio to ASCI.

Reliance Jio is also questioning Ookla’s Speedtest methods. Ookla is not recognised by either TRAI or the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Therefore, Airtel cannot use the word ‘officially’ in its advertisements, said Jio.

A Reliance Jio spokesperson said, “We are aware of the material flaw in Ookla Speedtest and have also raised it with them in the past. In spite of acknowledging this flaw, we are surprised that Ookla has gone ahead and released misleading results. We have initiated suitable actions at appropriate forums.”

However, Ookla is standing strong by its results and Airtel. Ookla COO Jamie Steven said, “…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.”

He further added, “We have taken dual SIM information into consideration and fully stand behind Airtel being named “India’s Fastest Mobile Network.”

Airtel’s Chief Brand Officer, Rajiv Mathrani also said 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.” Methrani said.

Currently, ASCI is processing and reviewing Reliance Jio’s complaint and also seeking clarifications from Airtel.

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