Court Dismisses Rel Jio’s Plea Against Airtel, Ookla
Mumbai: A Mumbai court has dismissed Reliance Jio Infocomm’s petition that Bharti Airtel and data speed tester Ookla should be tried for running advertisements proclaiming Airtel to be India’s fastest network.
In his July 27 order, metropolitan magistrate KG Paldewar said the complaint was devoid of merit as the charges brought up in it did not tantamount to a case of loss of money, defamation, conspiracy or breach of trust. Ookla is an independent company and not an authority under law; so it can give its certification using its methodology as accepted by Airtel, the court said. This certification alone “does not amount to any wrongful loss to the complainant or public at large”, it added.
Jio didn’t respond to ET's seeking comment.
Airtel termed Jio’s allegation as frivolous. “Bharti Airtel takes great pride in maintaining the highest standards of ethics and compliance,” an Airtel spokesperson said.
In its petition filed in July, Jio alleged that it lost reputation and money because of the ad campaign by the rival that amounted to conspiracy, defamation and breach of trust, among others.
Jio accused Ookla of trying to “sell” its speed test certification for $120,000 and said it was even charging a commission of 2-4 times that if an operator wished to promote its business using the purported result. Jio said it had declined Oo- email kla’s offer since it did not agree with the testing methodology and accused the company of selling the flawed data to Airtel. “If complainant has found any flaws in the test methodology of No 3 (Ookla), that does not mean that certification by accused No 3 (Ookla) is apparently dishonest” or that the award issued by the accused No 3 in favour of accused No 1 (Airtel) is collusion,” the court stated in its judgement.
In today's era of technology, in a competitive industry, these certifications are a “marketing policy” used by companies to expand business and not cause wrongful losses to the competitor, the court said.
It noted that Airtel, following an Advertising Standard Council orders post Jio's complaints, had dropped the word “officially” from its advertisements and now only proclaimed itself to be the fastest network. A few months ago, Airtel ran commercials depicting it as the fastest telecom network, the basis of which was Ookla’s certification. Jio refuted the claim and cited data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to claim its position as the fastest wireless broadband provider. The advertising council’s Fast Track Complaints Committee had in March upheld Jio's complaint terming the ads “misleading” and asked Airtel to modify those.
According to reports, Trai is expected to come up with a consultation paper on the methodology used by various speed testing apps. The regulator is expected to meet speed testing companies over the next couple of months to understand their process and parameters used to gauge the upload and download speeds offered by telecom operators.