Well, that was fast. A day after Jio filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Advertisements Standards Council of India against Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator has hit back. In a statement issued to media Airtel re-emphasises that its advertisement where it claims to be the fastest wireless network in India is accurate and that Jio is just trying to spread misinformation.
“Our latest advertising campaign is based on the findings by Ookla… Ookla’s findings are based on rigorous and extensive testing across millions of devices. 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,” said Rajiv Mathrani, chief brand officer at Bharti Airtel.
Jio in its complaint with the ad regulator has claimed Ookla methodology for speed test is flawed and Airtel should not be interpreting a claim from Ookla as “official”.
“The claim of Airtel that it is India’s fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. The Claims is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla, which professes to be expert in the domain space of testing mobile internet speed,” Jio noted in its complaint.
But Ookla, which is has also apparently got a legal notice from Jio, is standing by its claims and has come out in support of Airtel.
“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,” said Jamie Steven, COO at Ookla.
The fight over the speed and how fast are the networks is the latest front in the war that Jio and Airtel are waging for the last few months. Since Jio entered the market in September 2016 and offered free services for limited period, it is at loggerheads with Airtel, which is the current market leader. Airtel, along with Vodafone, Idea and others, has objected to Jo providing its services for free, calling the move predatory. Now, with Jio set to offer paid services from April 1, Jio and Airtel are fighting tariff war in a bid to retain and acquire consumers. Jio has prepared some aggressive data plans for its paid service, and although Airtel, Vodafone and others too have slashed the prices, they have not been able to exactly match Jio across all pricing segments.
But along with the fight in the market, with tariff and special plans, there is a separate fight too for the brand image. The claims and counterclaims related to speed and reliability of networks are aimed at building or saving this brand image. Airtel for now, despite its flaws, is considered more reliable network but in the recent months Jio has improved a lot and has on occasions showed that it can offer better speeds.