Court rejects Reliance Jio's plea against Airtel on network speed

Speed testing company Ookla had named Airtel the country’s fastest mobile network, based on data from the third and fourth quarters of 2016.
A trial court has dismissed a complaint by Reliance Jio against Bharti Airtel and broadband speed testing company Ookla around the ‘fastest network’ advertisement campaign. 

Ookla had named Airtel the country’s fastest mobile network, based on data from the third and fourth quarters of 2016. RJio had petitioned a magistrate’s court in Mumbai, contending Airtel’s subsequent advertising campaign was based on a dishonest, procured and collusive award issued by Ookla. Causing losses to RJio and misleading people at large, was the argument.

The court has rejected the petition. “During this voyage of technology era, if any service provider has chosen to adopt a test methodology of its services by an independent agency, which the (latter) has authenticated, there could not have been any public dissatisfaction or wrongful losses,” it has said.

The Advertising Standards Council of India had upheld the complaint to the extent that the word “officially” was misleading, as the certificate was not based on any government organisation or entity such as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. After that verdict, the word ‘official’ had been removed and a new campaign launched by Airtel.

An Airtel spokesperson said, “We are grateful to the court for dismissing the frivolous allegations against us. We maintain the highest standards of ethics and compliance.” A mail to RJio remained unanswered.

On the authenticity of the certificate issued by Ookla, the magistrate’s order says the latter was an independent agency, and in case any flaws in the test methodology exist, that itself is not enough to presume the certificate is dishonest or procured and collusive.

Regarding losses to the public at large, it was held that the complaint by Jio cannot be reason enough to take cognizance as a criminal offence, especially in a scenario where the complaint has been filed by a competitor. The advertising by Airtel was based on certification by a private independent agency and this cannot be said to be liable for any penal action.

RJio had alleged that Ookla charged money for giving such awards and the company had also approached Jio for doing so. The Mukesh Ambani-owned entity had alleged that the methodology used by Ookla attributed a speed result to the SIM used in the primary slot of mobile phones, even if Jio’s SIM delivering high speed had been used in the secondary slot.

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