Reliance Jio has moved the Bombay High Court against rival Bharti Airtel for running misleading advertisements, ET reports. Jio has also sent a legal notice to global broadband tester Ookla, which has rated Airtel as the fastest 4G network in the country. Jio claims that Airtel s campaign has amounted to conspiracy, defamation and breach of trust, among others. Airtel, of course, has dismissed the allegations as frivolous and baseless and has accused Jio of being a frustrated competitor.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco had earlier filed a statement with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) in March. The industry body subsequently asked Airtel to withdraw or modify its advertisements. However, Airtel did not relent, and Ookla too went ahead with its rating. Jio has now asked for trial under Sections 204, 406, 420, 465, 499 and 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code, adds the report. The charges, if proven, can lead to a heavy fine and/or a few years of imprisonment. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio controls 94% mobile data traffic share in India: Report
Ookla hasn t been spared either. Jio alleges that Ookla is selling” its speed test ratings for $120,000, and was even charging a commission any telco wished to promote or advertise themselves using their ratings / results. The complaint says that Ookla data is “dishonestly and mischievously manipulated so as to benefit incumbent operators. BGR India has reached out to Ookla for comment. ALSO READ: New Idea Cellular ads take a dig at Reliance Jio s freebies
The Airtel-Jio tussle comes on the back of Jio s disruption of Indian telecom since its launch in September 2016. With its unbelievably low-priced data and free voice services, Jio has notched up more than 110 million subscribers in a short time. Incumbent telcos like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have lost market share (marginal), as well as voice and data revenues (significant). They have accused Jio of predatory pricing and of de-growing the telecom industry for the first time in nine years.