Airtel ordered to pull down 'fastest network' ad after Reliance Jio's complaint

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has asked Airtel to "modify" or "withdraw" the advertisement in which it claims to be "officially the fastest network" after a complaint from rival Reliance Jio.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has asked Airtel to "modify" or "withdraw" the advertisement in which it claims to be "officially the fastest network" after a complaint from rival Reliance Jio.

Jio had alleged that Airtel's claim to be the fastest network was inaccurate and filed a complaint to ASCI. Jio had also raised doubts about the methodology used and alleged that the speed test app Ookla gave such titles for money.

ASCI has now ruled the case in Jio's favour saying Airtel's advertisement was "misleading" and have ordered Airtel to modify or withdraw it by 11th April.

In the order that Business Today Digital has accessed, ASCI says: "The FTCC (Fast Track Complaints Committee) 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."

ASCI further said in its response that Airtel's claim to be the fastest network "was not adequately substantiated and the basis of comparison has been so chosen as to bestow artificial advantage to the advertiser".

Airtel, meanwhile, has refused to accept ASCI's decision and said it would file an appeal.

"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," Bharti Airtel told the Times of India.

Ookla too has defended itself and said it stood by its findings. "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," the company said.