Spectrum is for telecommunication what jet fuel is for aviation. Spectrum is a range of electromagnetic frequencies or airwaves that 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. 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.
The spectrum shown under BSNL in white signifies spectrum reserved for the operator which has not yet been officially allotted to it.
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 have been through a Spectrum Auction where operators have paid the market discovered price and this spectrum is called liberalised and can be used for any technology platform 2G/3G/4G/5G. Alternatively, operators may choose to liberalise their administratively allotted spectrum by paying the market-discovered price to DoT on a pro-rata basis for the remaining validity of the spectrum.
Paired and Unpaired spectrum:
Spectrum may be paired or unpaired, bands 1/3/5/8/28/105 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 40/41/78/258 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)|
** n258 is a sub-band of n257
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 600/700/850/900 MHz bands combined, a 40% cap for Mid-Band spectrum in the 1800/2100/2300/2500 MHz bands combined, a 40% cap for the C-Band spectrum of 3300-3630 MHz and a 40% cap for the mm-Wave spectrum bands of 24.65-27.5 GHz. The current spectrum caps are denoted in the spectrum chart.
Overall spectrum holdings of operators (in GHz):
|Jammu & Kashmir||1.23||1.01||0.05||0.93|
Spectrum sharing/trading/leasing guidelines:
- Telecom operators holding CMTS/UASL/UL licenses can enter into a Spectrum-Sharing agreement with each other so long as both parties hold liberalised spectrum in the same band in the same circle. Sharing of spectrum is possible only on a Pan LSA level in block sizes defined by DoT and only after one year of the spectrum being acquired by an operator.
- Telecom operators holding CMTS/UASL/UL licenses can enter into a Spectrum-Trading agreement with each other so long as the spectrum being sold is liberalised. Trading of spectrum is possible only on a Pan LSA level in block sizes defined by DoT and only after two years of the spectrum being acquired by an operator.
- Telecom operators may enter into a Spectrum-Leasing agreement only with Enterprises holding a Captive Non-Public Network (CNPN) license and not with each other. The lease may be limited to any geographic area within the LSA and for any duration mutually agreed upon by both parties. A CNPN licensee can lease spectrum from more than one operator within an LSA.
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.