How a data-speed war broke out between Jio and Airtel over Ookla findings


India’s hot data-price war, which began with Reliance Jio forcing its way into the market with freebies, has turned into a data speed war. Jio and Airtel are fighting a war of claims and counter-claims over data speeds after Ookla certified Airtel as India’s fastest carrier.

Reliance Jio has fiercely contested the certification by the Seattle-based company behind speed-checking service, Speedtest.

Below is a summary of who says what over data speed:

1. It began with the Airtel ad
Ookla gave Airtel the fastest mobile carrier award based on results from its Speedtest app, which is used by millions of consumers, from the last two quarter of 2016. Airtel released an advertisement declaring it was “officially” India’s fastest 4G network.

2. Reliance Jio contests methodology
Jio, which claims to be the fastest, has questioned Ookla’s methodology. Jio says 90% of smartphones in India have dual SIMs and a large number of consumers use Jio as a secondary SIM for data usage. It says Ookla’s speed tests are attributed to primary SIMs even though data could have come from the secondary SIMs.

Jio has also questioned Airtel’s claim to be “officially” the fastest carrier in its advertisement since Ookla is recognised by neither the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India nor the Department of Telecommunications.

3. What does Ookla say
Ookla has admitted that due to limitations of the Android platform, the ‘active carrier value’ returned by the device does not always indicate the actual data provider in devices with dual SIMs. However, it says it applies additional data sources and mechanisms during post- processing to help determine the actual data carrier being tested. “This enables Ookla to determine the actual data carrier with a high degree of confidence,” it says. But Jio seems to differentiate between “a high degree of confidence” and hundred per cent accuracy of results. Jio says Ookla’s admission proves Jio’s claim that there is a clear contamination in primary data collected by Ookla in India. Ookla says it stands by its methodology.

4. What’s the latest?
Jio has complained to the advertising industry watchdog, Advertising Standards Council of India against the Airtel advertisement. It has also sent a legal notice to Ookla.