Telecom major Bharti Airtel today filed an appeal before ASCI seeking review of the watchdog’s decision that sought modification or withdrawal of the company’s ‘fastest network’ advertisement campaign. “Airtel has filed an appeal before ASCI today for the review of decision with additional material to support the company’s advertisement campaign. The company will abide by all guidelines,” a company source told PTI.
Bharti Airtel has come out with a television commercial (TVC) claiming to be India’s fastest network based on Ookla’s finding. Its rival Reliance Jio had contested the claim and moved the ASCI against the commercial.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) found the ad claiming Airtel to be “officially” fastest network as misleading and asked the company to modify or withdraw the commercial by April 11. Upholding the complaint filed by rival Reliance Jio Infocom, ASCI said the Airtel TV commercial (TVC) was “misleading” and “contravened Chapters” of its Code as well as guidelines on disclaimers clauses.
Bharti Airtel rejected the findings of the Fast Track Complaints Committee (FTCC) of ASCI saying, “We do not agree with ASCI’s decision and will file an appeal as per guidelines.” Airtel said that its campaign is based on findings by Ookla – the globally recognised leader in mobile speed tests and also a benchmark for reputed global operators.
Ookla too responded to ASCI decision saying that it fully stands behind the accuracy and reliability of the methodology used to designate Airtel as ‘India’s Fastest Mobile Network’. Besides awarding Airtel as the fastest for third and the fourth quarter of 2016, Ookla said that the telecom major is still the fastest mobile network.
“When analysing 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,” Ookla said. The ad regulator had questioned the test methodology of Ookla.
“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,” ASCI observed.
The ASCI committee referred to telecom regulator Trai’s website 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.
“The FTCC considered this representation to be misleading by ambiguity and implication,” it added.
ASCI has granted a personal hearing to Reliance Jio Infocom and Bharti Airtel’s representatives with the technical expert.