Court Dis­misses Rel Jio’s Plea Against Air­tel, Ookla

The Economic Times - - Companies & Economy - Dev­ina.Sen­gupta @times­

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.

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