Airtel asked to stop its 'Fastest Network' campaign by ASCI's complaints committee

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has now directed Airtel to take off its 'Fastest Network' ad campaign


Update: Airtel has responded to this ASCI directive. 

Bharti Airtel has been running its 'Fastest Mobile Network' campaign for a while now. More recently, there was a flaw discovered with the Ookla Speedtest app which put the claims by Airtel under doubt.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has now directed Airtel to take off its 'Fastest Network' ad campaign after the fast track complaints committee (FTCC) found that Airtel's claims were in contravention of the ASCI guidelines on disclaimers.

According to ASCI, the Airtel TVC does not state in its commercial that the test was conducted only during the Q3-Q4 2016 period. FTCC has taken exception to points 4,5,6 of Airtel's terms and conditions published in reference to its claims. FTCC has called this representation as misleading by ambiguity and implication.

"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 sample; and is representative and comparable across operators, geographies and consumers," says the FTCC finding.

The FTCC referred to a Trai website and discovered that there is a significant gap between the geographical dispersion of Airtel and Jio 4G subscribers. FTCC has also said that the use of the term 'Officially' is misleading as the Ookla Speedtest is not based on any government organisation or recognised authority such as Trai, which again exploits consumers' lack of knowledge.

"The TVC and web-site advertisement contravened Chapters I.1, 1.4, I.5 and IV.1(b) of the ASCI Code as well as ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers Clause I. We have advised the Advertiser to modify appropriately or to withdraw the said TVC and the website advertisement by 11 April 2017," says ASCI.

Bharti Airtel has responded with the following statement,"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."

According to a report by Techpp, Ookla’s Android app had a flaw where the app displayed incorrect speed test results on smartphones with dual-SIM slots.

The report detailed that every time you ran the Speedtest app, the app took into account the network that had been assigned calls regardless of the network that had been assigned for Mobile data. In dual SIM phones, this results in a discrepancy in the results as the network of the SIM used for data was not explicitly taken into account.

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