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 850 MHz/ 900 MHz/ 1800 MHz/ 2100 MHz/ 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).

Image Courtesy: futuretimeline.net

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. We update this chart in realtime to ensure it is always up to date with the latest changes.

Spectrum may be paired or unpaired, bands 28/5/8/3/1 are all paired where one set of frequencies is used for uplink whereas another distinct set of frequencies is used for downlink (Frequency division duplexing FDD), whereas bands 40 and 41 are unpaired where both uplink and downlink happens in the same set of frequencies separated by the time of uplink and downlink (Time division duplexing TDD).

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.

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.

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 licence area (circle) and less than or equal to 35% of the total available spectrum across all bands put together in a given licence 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. Jio currently has a spectrum sharing agreement with Rcom for band 5 spectrum in 21 circles.

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Vishal
Vishal
1 day ago

VIL B3 in TN is reduced as much as 8Mhz ???

Vishal
Vishal
24 days ago

according to your knowledge who may buy out Aircel and rcom spectrum ?

Esmail Beguwala
Esmail Beguwala
Reply to  Vishal
24 days ago

As of now it belongs to UVARCL and they will invite bids from the existing operators. Only Jio and Airtel are in a position to buy it selectively. I belive the non liberalised part of Aircel spectrum won’t find any takers as it will need the buyer to pay for getting it liberalised at market rate. Moreover the 2100 MHz spectrum will attract most interest by Jio since it is available in 5 MHz contiguous chunks and has a ready ecosystem for 4G devices supporting it. The 10 Mhz of band 3 spectrum of Aircel in Tamilnadu circle will also… Read more »

Vishal
Vishal
Reply to  Esmail Beguwala
18 days ago

but if jio buys B1 from Aircel it again needs to invest in antennas, radios to deploy it. On the other hand Airtel already has B1 radios pan India. What’s your thoughts on it ? Also will jio buy B28 ?

And for VIL I guess most of the Vodafone spectrum are expiring which they will not bid & renew which in turn automatically goes to other operators.

Last edited 18 days ago by Vishal
Esmail Beguwala
Esmail Beguwala
Reply to  Vishal
18 days ago

Yes, I believe Jio might go for 20 MHz pan India in band 28 for the superior coverage. Band 1 it may consider for capacity. Investment in radios is a long term gain, coz the same can be reprogrammed for 5G use as well with just a software tweak.

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