More reports on: Telecom, Advertising / branding

Airtel ordered to pull out 'fastest network' ad

31 March 2017

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has asked Airtel to "modify" or "withdraw" its advertisement claiming to be "officially the fastest network" in the country, following a complaint from rival Reliance Jio.

ASCI followed recommendations of its fast track committee and ruled in favour of Reliance Jio, holding the advertisement as misleading, and has ordered Airtel to modify or withdraw the ad by 11 April.

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.

"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," a Business Today Digital report quoted the ASCI order as stating

ASCI further said 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".

However, the Sunil Mittal-led telco disagreed with ASCI call and said will file an appeal to prove their point.

"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," The Times of India quoted Bharti Airtel as saying.

Ookla also defended its findings, saying the designation was validated using the IP methodology for all speedtest results during the last 6 months of 2016 (June-December).

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