Spectrum is for telecommunication what fuel is for aviation. Spectrum is a range of electromagnetic frequencies or airwaves which are used by telecom companies for establishing a connection between a cell tower and a mobile phone. The bandwidth of this spectrum is directly proportional to the speed of a wireless data network (since more data can be transmitted simultaneously through a broader data pipeline) whereas the frequency is inversely proportional to the coverage (since lower frequencies penetrate better through physical barriers and thus have wider coverage).
The spectrum holding data sheet embedded in this article represents the current spectrum holdings of all active telecom operators across all frequency bands across all 22 telecom circles along with their liberalisation status and expiry dates (Spectrum is allotted for a period of 20 years). All figures represented are in MHz. The value mentioned in the bracket beside the frequency at the base of each sheet is the band number where ‘B’ stands for 4G LTE band whereas ‘n’ stands for the corresponding 5G NR band.
Spectrum was administratively allocated to operators in each of the 22 licensed service areas or circles pre 2010, this spectrum is called non-liberalised and can only be used for 2G services whereas all airwaves allotted post-2010 has been through a Spectrum Auction where operators have paid market discovered price and this spectrum is called liberalised and can be used for any technology platform 2G/3G/4G/5G.
Spectrum may be paired or unpaired, bands 1/3/5/8/28 are all paired where one set of frequencies is used for uplink whereas another distinct set of frequencies is used for downlink known as Frequency-division duplexing (FDD), whereas bands 40/41/77/78/257/258 are unpaired where both uplink and downlink happens in the same set of frequencies separated by the time of uplink and downlink known as Time-division duplexing (TDD).
List of Indian FDD Bands:
|4G LTE band||5G NR band||Uplink frequency range (MHz)||Downlink frequency range (MHz)||Bandwidth for telecom (MHz)||Block size (MHz)|
** Bandwidth for Assam, Jammu & Kashmir and North East circles is 15×2 MHz
List of Indian TDD Bands:
|4G LTE band||5G NR band||Frequency range (MHz)||Bandwidth for |
|Block size (MHz)|
There is a spectrum cap that dictates how much spectrum a particular operator can hold in a circle in a particular band. There is a 40% cap for sub GHz spectrum in the 600/700/800/900 MHz bands combined, a 40% cap for supra GHz spectrum in the 1800/2100/2300/2500 MHz bands combined, a 40% cap for the mid-band spectrum of 3300-3630 MHz and a 40% cap for the millimetre wave spectrum bands of 24.65-27.5 GHz.
Overall spectrum holdings of private operators (in MHz):
|J & K||54||102.4||70|
|MP & CG||92||90||80|
Apart from auctions, operators can buy or sell spectrum usage rights from each other which is called spectrum trading. Operators may also sign a spectrum sharing agreement to pool their spectrum holdings to achieve more bandwidth, Jio currently has an active spectrum sharing agreement with Rcom in Assam and North East circles. Only intra-band spectrum sharing is permitted where both operators need to hold spectrum in the same band in a given circle, inter-band spectrum leasing is not allowed.
Note: We update this chart in real-time to ensure it is always up to date with the latest changes in spectrum holding. Certain human errors might have crept in during the manual compilation of the data, any mistakes/ rectification can be brought to the notice of the Team through the comments section below.