Indian carriers fight over who has the fastest 4G internet

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A lot is happening in India’s telecom space. While on one hand, country’s second and third largest telecom operators are joining hands to become the largest local carrier, two other major players are spending much of their time fighting over who has the fastest internet. 

And they are dragging a third-party company into their fight. 

Reliance Jio, a six-month-old telecom operator from India’s richest man, has accused Airtel, the country’s top telecom operator (for now) of misleading consumers by claiming to offer fastest 4G internet in the country. 

About those ads

If you are in India, you’re probably already tired of seeing commercials by Airtel where it claims to be the fastest 4G internet service provider, citing data from Ookla, a Ziff Davis-owned firm that runs Speedtest.net, a website where people can test the speed of their internet connections. 

(Though, you’re probably also tired of hearing Reliance Jio’s Prime Membership ads.)

What’s the problem

Reliance claims that Ookla’s results are misleading and that it has sent them a legal notice. In a letter to Advertising Standards Council of India, the 4G-only telecom also pointed out that Ookla’s results are based on tests it performed in Q3 and Q4 of last year, and its use in ads broadcasted in recent weeks is wrong. 

The telecom operator has requested the advertising authority to force Airtel to withdraw the advertisement. 

But that’s not all. There’s also what appears to be a silent marketing campaign amid all of this that seems to point fingers at a “flaw” in Speedtest’s Android app, according to multiple industry sources. Such reports note that Speedtest often times uses the incorrect SIM card in dual-SIM handsets to perform network testing results, hence “end up with showing misleading results.” 

Dual-sim capable smartphones are extremely popular in India. More than 90 percent of smartphones shipped in the country last year had dual-SIM slots, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint. 

Often times, people use their primary SIM card for phone calls, and utilize the secondary SIM card for data usage. The aforementioned reports claim that even for customers who are using SIM card #2 for data usage, Speedtest app uses the SIM card #1 when performing tests. 

Ookla’s response

Speaking to Mashable, Ookla refuted such claims. “The carrier displayed by the Speedtest mobile application is based on the “Active Carrier” value returned by the Android API. This is typically the SIM in the first slot, although this may not always be the case,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“In our experience, we have found that the “Active Carrier” does not always indicate the actual data provider in devices with multiple SIMs. In situations where multiple SIM cards are in use, we apply additional data sources during post-processing to help determine the actual data carrier with a high degree of confidence,” the statement added.  

“We use established third party sources to match the connection IP during the test to the actual data carrier IP blocks (the IP addresses attributed to a provider). In the future, we expect to display the correct data carrier in dual SIM mobile devices at the time of the test.”

In the meanwhile, Airtel and Ookla have stood by their previous claims. “We are rather amused by the allegations being made against our campaign. We believe that this is a deliberate attempt to malign our brand and misguide customers through a campaign of misinformation, which is something we now come across on a regular basis, in particular, on social media platforms,” Airtel said.

A top-level source at Ookla further added that they are yet to receive any “legal communication of any kind” from Reliance Jio. 

Reliance Jio didn’t respond to Mashable’s request for comment.



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