ASCI asks Airtel to withdraw 4G LTE campaign

Airtel 4G in Kerala
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has advised Bharti Airtel to withdraw or to modify appropriately the ongoing 4G LTE advertisement before the October 7, 2015 or seek a review of the decision.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld the decision of ASCI, according to industry sources.

Bharti Airtel was not available for official comments. The Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel has 4G presence in more than 300 towns.

The main benefit will be to the Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is expected to launch its 4G LTE services by the year-end. On Wednesday, Reliance Communications promoter Anil Ambani said that the telecom network operator will finalize spectrum sharing deal with Reliance Jio Infocomm. The strategy will enable both Reliance Communications and Reliance Jio to offer 2G, 3G and 4G services — by investing less in telecom network infrastructure.

The CCC viewed the print advertisement and considered Bharti Airtel’s response as well as the opinion of the technical expert presented at the meeting.

Incidentally, the supporting documents provided by Airtel do not mention fastest network.

The numbers are meant to be taken as such only in favourable conditions and also states that the average rates are lower than this peak rate and are difficult to predict because they depend on a multitude of operational and network factors. The major factors are physical propagation environment and network congestion.

A favorable location in a lightly loaded 3G network can certainly give a better network performance than a congested 4G network access at the cell edge.

In the same favorable conditions, 4G speeds are three times that of 3G. The 4G challenge can be broken in download speeds by using a 3G phone only in favorable locations.

The Airtel advertisement, which also contains statements like a movie in 3 minutes, album upload in 1 minute statements, is false is many contexts, said ASCI.

The CCC concluded that though 4G provides better services than 3G under the same operating conditions, it is not right to claim it as the fastest network ever.

The claim in the Advertisement, “Airtel 4G is the fastest network ever” and “If your network is faster, we will pay your mobile bills for life”, is misleading by omission in the absence of appropriate disclaimers in the advertisement.

Baburajan K
[email protected]