Pan India Telecom Spectrum holding chart 2020

Highlights
  • Reliance Jio holds spectrum in 850 MHz/ 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands
  • Bharti Airtel holds spectrum in 850 MHz/ 900 MHz/ 1800 MHz/ 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz bands
  • Vodafone Idea holds spectrum in 900 MHz/ 1800 MHz/ 2100 MHz/ 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands
  • BSNL/MTNL holds spectrum in 900 MHz/ 1800 MHz/ 2100 MHz and 2500 MHz bands

Spectrum is for telecommunication what fuel is for aviation. Spectrum is a range of electromagnetic frequencies or airwaves which are used by the 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).

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.

Private Operators’ spectrum holdings as of 2020

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 is auctioned in blocks which are chunks of spectrum, the block size is different for different bands. Block size for 700 MHz band is 5 MHz, for 850 MHz it is 1.25 MHz, for 900 and 1800 MHz bands it is 0.2 MHz, for 2100 MHz it is 5 MHz, for 2300 and 2500 MHz bands it is 10 MHz. Private operators like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea bid for these blocks in the auction whereas spectrum is reserved for PSU operator BSNL which matches the highest bid of the auction.

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 40/41/42 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 band5G NR bandUplink frequency range (MHz)Downlink frequency range (MHz)Bandwidth for telecom (MHz)
B1n11939-19792129-216940 X 2
B3n31710-17651805-186055 X 2
B5n5824-844869-88917.5 X 2
B8n8890-915935-96023.2 X 2
B28n28713-748768-80335 X 2
Note: The frequency ranges and total bandwidth mentioned are specific to Indian telecom.

List of Indian TDD Bands:

4G LTE band5G NR bandFrequency range (MHz)Bandwidth for
telecom (MHz)
B40n402300-238080
B41n412535-2555/ 2635-265540
B42n783425-3600175
Note: The frequency ranges and total bandwidth mentioned are specific to Indian telecom.

There is a spectrum cap which dictates how much spectrum a particular operator can hold in a circle in a particular band. An operator can own the right to use spectrum only in a quantum less than or equal to 50% of the combined available spectrum in all sub GHz bands (Band28+Band5+Band8) in a given licensed service area (circle) and less than or equal to 35% of the total available spectrum across all bands put together in a given licensed service area.

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 share their spectrum holdings to achieve a pooled spectrum holding with more bandwidth. 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 realtime to ensure it is always up to date with the latest changes in spectrum holding. Certain human errors might have crept in during manual compilation of the data, any mistakes/ rectification can be brought to the notice of the Team through the comments section below.

Comments (125)Forum replies (7)

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Have updated the spectrum holding for Vodafone Idea after the recent disclosure in the Q4 report. Liberalisation status for 900 and 1800 MHz holdings updated. 1800 MHz spectrum bought in 2012 auction in a block size of 1.25 MHz has been rounded up to the next higher number divisible by a 0.2 MHz block size so as to keep uniformity with the block size followed in all subsequent auctions for this band.

Reply 4 Likes

4G LTE and 5G NR band details with frequency range and bandwidth used by Indian Telecom details added in tabular form.

Reply 3 Likes

@Basil and @Esmail bros. Why are spectrum of North East India not in the list?

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@Basil and @Esmail bros. Why are spectrum of North East India not in the list?

I do see Assam and North East in the list bro.

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Vishal
Vishal
5 days ago

Hi Esmail, Any idea on auction dates ? It’s already year end.

SACHIN
SACHIN
13 days ago

Why this error bro?

Screenshot_20201122-115708_Chrome.jpg
Basil Kannagi Arasu
Reply to  SACHIN
11 days ago

This is a user specific issue as I have encountered it earlier. Simple refresh fixes it.

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