Reliance Jio has called in wars with all the telecom operators with their launch of the Jio 4G services here in India. Regardless of the quality of the service or the speeds, which has always been a debatable topic, Jio is on the forefront, and all the other operators are trying to catch up with them. However, on the other hand, if you have been following the news lately, then you might be aware of the fact that Jio has sent a legal notice to Ookla. What is it about? Well, the company has sent a legal notice for misleading ads by Airtel.
Update 1: ASCI has given a statement in favor of Reliance Jio and has asked Airtel to stop the ads that were misleading for several reasons. Read the following to know more on the same.
The complaint was considered by the Fast Track Complaints Committee (FTCC) on 29th March 2017.
· The FTCC referred to the terms and conditions (https://www.airtel.in/fastestnetwork/download/terms-and-conditions-fastest-network-ookla.pdf) and noted the following clauses which were considered to be in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers, Clause I because it renders the principle claim of the TVC being the “Fastest Network” null and void.
The specific clauses are –
Airtel has no liability whatsoever in respect of any claims or disputes and any resulting damages or losses, whether direct or indirect, relating to the customers’ use of the network.
Airtel makes no warranties or representations whatsoever in respect of the mobile services including as to its fitness for any particular purpose, merchantability, quality, availability, disruption or error free operation.
Please note that the statements in these terms and conditions do not constitute any general representation from Airtel regarding Airtel’s services or its availability. Airtel’s network is available on an ‘as is where is available’ basis and Airtel makes no representation, guarantee or warranty regarding the availability, fitness for any specified purpose or error free operation of the network. Network availability may be affected due to various reasons including force majeure, acts of god, inclement weather, topographical/ geographic/ demographic factors, maintenance work, availability of interconnection with other networks, etc.
· Furthermore, the TVC does not state in the claim itself that the speed results pertain to only a specific period. (i.e. The period taken to conduct speed test is from Q3-Q4 2016”.)
· The FTCC noted that the claim by the advertiser is not specific to 4G technology whereas the TVC has visuals with reference to 4G. The speed comparison visual also has a reference to 4G in the notification bar and shows poor signal strength for the other service provider.
· The FTCC considered this representation to be misleading by ambiguity and implication.
· While the advertiser submitted an Ookla certificate, they did not provide an explicit test methodology to substantiate that the method is robust to capture that the sample; and is representative and comparable across operators, geographies and consumers.
· The FTCC referred to the TRAI web-site with respect to the coverage of Airtel vis a vis Reliance Jio and noticed that there is a significant gap between Geographical dispersion of Airtel and Jio 4G subscribers which could impact the comparison. Based on this data, the FTCC concluded that the claim was not adequately substantiated and the basis of comparison has been so chosen as to bestow artificial advantage to the advertiser.
The FTCC also considered the term “Officially” to be misleading as this test is not based on any government organization or recognized authority such as TRAI in this category and hence, exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge.
The TVC and web-site advertisement contravened Chapters I.1, 1.4, I.5 and IV.1(b) of the ASCI Code as well as ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers Clause I. The complaint was UPHELD.
We have advised the Advertiser to modify appropriately or to withdraw the said TVC and the website advertisement by 11th April 2017.
Update 2: Bharti Airtel has sent us a copy of their statement as a follow up to this issue and the same is attached below.
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 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.
According to the new reports which we have, it looks like Android app of Ookla has been showing incorrect results whenever you run the speed test on a dual SIM handset. To shed more light on the matter, we have done a video on the same which you can watch down below, and it will mostly clear out all your doubts with this. As you might have noticed, the data was connected from the second SIM. And when you go and try to share it, it will be shared as Airtel whereas it was connected to Jio originally. It has been found that the app is taking into account the network on which the calls have been assigned which was Airtel in our case.
As mentioned earlier, you can check out the video embedded for more info as we have shown the live testing. First of all, Ookla being one of the best speed test app in the business, it is quite shocking that something like this has happened. Also, this is not just the case with us, even you can try this and the results which you will get will also be the same. And now talking about the news itself, Jio has sent a legal notice to Ookla for this, which is obviously the right thing to do. And secondly, it looks like this is not just the case with Jio, as a matter of fact, if you use any other SIM like Vodafone, etc. the outcome is going to be the same more or less.
Followed is an original copy of the complaint that Reliance Jio has filed with ASCI against Airtel’s Misleading advertisements.
To sum it up briefly, this is a major flaw which has gone unnoticed for a long time now. In fact, if you dig deep, then you will find out that this is certainly not the first time that something like this has happened. Back in 2013, Vodafone also received a legal notice from Telstra as Vodafone claimed that they are the fastest 4G network in Australia. And even Verizon challenged the Comcast’s advertising claims of being the fastest in-home Wi-Fi.
With all that said, stay tuned to PhoneRadar to know more on this as we will definitely have more to report on this very soon. Meanwhile, be sure to let us know what do you think about this issue. Do you think Jio has done the right thing by sending in a legal notice? Be sure to let us know by dropping a comment down below.
Update – Ookla has now given out their official statement regarding this situation explaining what exactly is going on and you can read the same below –
In recent days, Indian telecommunications company Reliance Jio has made public statements regarding Ookla, primarily that Ookla has knowingly and blatantly released misleading results about the Indian mobile market. Data accuracy and neutrality is of the utmost importance to Ookla and the company goes to great lengths to ensure that the information collected on any Speedtest internet test is verifiably correct. Ookla fully stands behind the accuracy and reliability of the methodology used to designate Airtel as ‘India’s Fastest Mobile Network’.
Much of the commentary has focused on dual SIM devices. The carrier displayed in the Speedtest Android application is based on the “Active Carrier” value returned by the device. Due to limitations of the Android platform, the “Active Carrier” does not always indicate the actual data provider in devices with multiple SIMs. In these situations, Ookla applies additional data sources and mechanisms during post-processing to help determine the actual data carrier being tested. For example, Ookla matches the connection IP address recorded during the test to known carrier IP blocks. This enables Ookla to determine the actual data carrier with a high degree of confidence. Airtel’s margin of victory increased when the complete analysis was performed.