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Reliance Jio registers complaint with ASCI over Airtel’s fastest network claims based on Ookla's speed test results

Reliance Jio has also sent a legal notice to Ookla for misleading Airtel ad, and also asked the telecom operator to withdraw it.

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Ever since Reliance Jio entered the Indian telecom space, it has brought incumbent telecom operators under pressure by offering affordable data plans. Besides, it’s made local and national voice calls completely free. With a cut-throat competition, operators are coming up with lucrative data plans to compete with Jio. But more than slashing prices, it’s all about offering good network data speeds too. While Reliance Jio recently topped TRAI’s speed test results, Ookla’s popular speedtest app results have awarded Airtel as India’s ‘Fastest Mobile Network for 2016.’

However, there is a big debate here, and the accuracy of Ookla’s speed test results have been questioned. Reliance Jio is unhappy with Airtel’s ad claiming it to be misleading. The telecom operator has also sent a legal notice to Ookla for the misleading advertisement, while asking Airtel to take it down.

What’s the problem with the Speedtest app?

Mobile data has now become more important than ever. We need internet on our smartphones to keep connected, use apps, stream videos and movies, and more. A good number of Android smartphones sold today feature dual SIM support. With Reliance Jio offering free SIM card along with high-speed 4G data, a lot of users have been using a Jio SIM card in the secondary slot, only for data. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio scores highest on overall customer loyalty: Bernstein study

Now, here’s where the real problem is with Speedtest app. Every time you run the Speedtest app on a dual SIM smartphone, by default, it only takes the primary network into account, and not the one that is assigned for mobile data. For instance, let’s assume you have a Vodafone, Airtel or Idea SIM card in the SIM 1 slot for calls and text messages, and a Reliance Jio SIM in the second slot for mobile data.

Now, when you do a speed test, result should show the network operator as Reliance Jio, as it is being used as data network. However, the app result shows Airtel, Vodafone or Idea as the network operator, rather than Reliance Jio which is being used as mobile data network. Considering the fact that dual SIM smartphones have been around since over a couple of years now, the app shouldn’t have any such issues. It remains to be seen how soon Ookla fixes the bugs. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio’s free data increased mobile internet usage by 29% in Q3 2016: Report

Airtel reached out to BGR India regarding the issue and here’s what the spokesperson had to say. “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.”

Reliance Jio has also sent a letter to ASCI, which is an advertising watchdog. “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. Without prejudice to the above, in any event, 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,” the letter said.

Ookla has also reached out to BGR India with a statement saying it stands behind Airtel for 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,” Jamie Steven, COO, Speedtest by Ookla said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

With Reliance Jio claiming that the methodology used by Ookla to be flawed, it remains to be seen if Airtel will take down the ads.

The story has been updated with Ookla statement. 

  • Published Date: March 21, 2017 10:04 AM IST
  • Updated Date: March 21, 2017 11:23 AM IST