Is Airtel really the fastest network? Reliance Jio cries foul, Ookla responds

Sami Khan
Is Airtel really the fastest network? Reliance Jio cries foul, Ookla responds [Updated]

Update on March 21, 2017:

Ookla has come back with a response to Jio's claims and continues to stand by the fact that Airtel is indeed India's fastest mobile network.

Speaking about the dual SIM functionality flaw, the network diagnostic company's COO, Jamie Steven said, "We have taken dual SIM information into consideration and fully stand behind Airtel being named India's Fastest Mobile Network. We are always improving how additional information is collected and analysed through our Speedtest applications to allow Ookla to accurately reflect internet performance."

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The response comes a day after Jio filed a complaint against Airtel and Ookla over claims that the speed test yeilded false results. Read the original story below.

Original story...

The Indian telecom industry underwent a massive makeover in terms of tariffs in recent months. Following Reliance Jio's generous free 4G data and voice calls for over six months and disruptive tariffs to follow, incumbents have been forced to lower their rates as well.

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But the question that remains is whether affordability can overshadow the importance of having a good service. The largest telecom operator in India realized that having a quality service is just as important as competitive tariffs, so it started to promote its strengths.

Airtel advertisements show that it is the country's fastest network as rated by Ookla – a web-based broadband and network testing company. While it all sounds fine, the only problem with that is it may not be true - at least that's what Reliance Jio claims.

The Mukesh Ambani-run telecom company has filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Ookla for misleading Airtel advertisement and also asked the telco to withdraw it.

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"The claim of Airtel that it is India's fastest network is false, misleading and incorrect. The claim is being made by Airtel acting in a mala fide manner in collusion with Ookla LLC, who profess to be experts in the domain space of testing mobile internet speed. Without prejudice to the above, in any event, the way the award is being projected misleads the public into believing that Airtel has the fastest network today, that is when the advertisements are being aired/published," Jio wrote in its letter to ASCI, BGR reported.

Jio's claims are based on Ookla's flawed methods to test the networks. For instance, running a speed test on a dual SIM smartphone will only take the primary network into account even if you are using data on the secondary slot. In simple words, if you have Jio SIM in second SIM card slot and Airtel in the primary slot, Ookla will show the speed test results as Airtel's instead of Jio.

In Airtel's defense, a company spokesperson said, "Airtel has been rated as India's fastest mobile network by Ookla – the global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications. This is clearly mentioned in the ad. Ookla's findings are based on analysis of millions of internet speed tests logged on 'modern devices' by mobile customers across India using its popular Speedtest app. The results include all mobile tests, regardless of connection technology."

It remains to be seen whether Airtel will take down its ads or Jio will find another way to prove its claims (may be a speed test face-off?).

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