In the latest chapter of the ongoing Jio-Airtel speed test row, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has asked Airtel to either withdraw the ad that proclaims it is India's fastest telecom network or modify it by 11 April.
Airtel had brought out TV and print ads, making the claim based on speed-test results published by Ookla, a Seattle based web service that provides free analysis of Internet access speeds. While Jio pointed out that there are certain flaws in the method of testing, Ookla has stood by its results and fully backed Airtel.
The Fast Track Complaints Committee (FTCC) established by ASCI to resolve the issue found the Airtel ads to be misleading and ambiguous. According to the committee report, the testing methods are not specified in the ads and while there is an indication that they are referring to 4G network speeds, there is no specific mention of the fact.
"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 order stated, as reported by TOI.
Jio had filed a complaint with ASCI on 20 March claiming that the Airtel ads were misleading.
"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 recognized 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," Airtel said in its response to the decision. Ookla has also released a statement backing Airtel.