Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea Circle Wise Coverage and Capacity Analysis WRT Spectrum Holdings

Jio takes the lead in the coverage aspect with major holdings, followed by Vi. Capacity-wise, Airtel takes the lead with its spectrum holdings of 80 MHz across the bands, followed by Vi with just a difference of 2.8 MHz when compared to the former.

Highlights

  • Low bands (sub-1 GHz) support widespread coverage, including indoors, across urban, suburban and rural areas.
  • Vodafone Idea enjoys the lead position here in the coverage aspect in Gujarat, followed by Jio, and Airtel is not even close.
  • Jio takes the lead with its massive holdings in the 800 MHz band in the coverage aspect, followed by Vi in Mumbai.

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Bharti Airtel Coverage

The private telcos, as well as the followers of the telecom industry, are eagerly waiting for the spectrum auction slated for July 26, 2022. This will be the first 5G-focused spectrum auction held in India. Before we head into the auction, which is only a few days away, let's see which telco is actually winning in different circles when it comes to capacity and coverage. Indian consumers are going to continue consuming 4G services majorly, and thus, a strong 4G coverage and capacity will matter a lot in giving customers a good mobile experience for the telcos.

For this story, only Airtel, Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) are considered. Please be noted that any technology (2G/4G/5G) can be used with the liberalised spectrum, and that drives market dynamics.

Basics on Bands:

Low bands (sub-1 GHz) support widespread coverage, including indoors, across urban, suburban and rural areas. Mid-bands (1 GHz - 6 GHz) typically offer a good mixture of coverage and capacity benefits. The mid-bands generally have higher available bandwidth than the low-band and thus more capacity.

For ease of explanation and understanding, the terms 'Coverage' and 'Capacity' are used. When term coverage is used, it refers to bands 800(2x) and 900(2x), and for term capacity aggregate of - 1800(2x), 2100(2x), [2300, 2500](x) - bands is referred. The comparison is based on the respective spectrum holding values, and the actual scenario may differ based on the deployments, band characteristics, real case coverage scenarios and challenges.

Table for Spectrum Holdings in India

Vodafone Idea

1. Andhra Pradesh & Telangana - Category 'A' Circle

With Jio and Airtel competing in the coverage aspect, Airtel heads the capacity aspect with a major share of its spectrum in 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands. Jio leads the 2300 MHz band with the highest spectrum holding of 40 MHz.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, very close is Airtel.

b) Capacity – Airtel.

2. Assam - Category 'C' Circle

Airtel can offer the best coverage with its spectrum holding in Assam, followed by Jio. Vi doesn't hold any spectrum in the sub-1 GHz bands. Vi holds the highest spectrum in 1800 MHz, whereas Airtel and Jio are equally capable of offering capacity through their 2300 MHz band. Overall, Airtel leads the capacity segment here.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Airtel, next close is Jio.

b) Capacity - Airtel, next close is Vodafone Idea.

3. Bihar - Category 'C' Circle

Airtel wins the coverage aspect with very slight points when compared to Jio. Vi doesn't hold any spectrum in the cover bands as of now. Airtel and Vi are almost close in the capacity aspect in the 1800 MHz band. Overall, Airtel heads the capacity aspect in Bihar, followed by Jio.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Airtel, very next close is Jio.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Jio.

4. Delhi - Category 'Metro' Circle

Call someone or get a call from someone in Delhi on a cellular network, and you will understand the situation and the density of users. Hence, both coverage and capacity are equally important here. Let's see who won what.

From a spectrum number perspective for the coverage aspect, Jio and Vi stand first and are close to equal as Jio and Vi hold equal amounts of spectrum in 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands, respectively. From a capacity perspective considering the 2300 MHz band, Jio wins with 40 MHz while Airtel leads in the 2100 MHz band. But in overall capacity spectrum numbers, Airtel leads with 64 MHz.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio/Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Airtel, followed by Jio.

5. Gujarat - Category 'A' Circle

Vodafone Idea enjoys the lead position here in the coverage aspect, followed by Jio, and Airtel is not even close. Vodafone Idea also enjoys the capacity aspect, with the majority of its holdings spread across 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. However, Airtel and Jio stand tall equally with their 2300 MHz band holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Vodafone Idea, followed by Jio.

b)  Capacity - Vodafone Idea, followed by Airtel.

6. Haryana - Category 'B' Circle

Vi wins the coverage aspect here with its massive 24.4 MHz holdings in the 900 MHz band, followed by Jio. In the capacity aspect, although Vi leads with its holdings in 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, it is just with 1.6 MHz in the overall difference where Airtel stands immediately next to Vi.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Vodafone Idea, followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, very next close is Airtel.

7. Himachal Pradesh - Category 'C' Circle

Airtel and Jio stand first and are close to equal as they hold equal amounts of spectrum in 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands, respectively. Vi does not hold any spectrum in 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands. In a capacity aspect, Airtel clearly takes the lead in Himachal Pradesh with its massive holdings in 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands, followed by Jio.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage: Jio and Airtel.

b) Capacity: Airtel, followed by Jio

8. Jammu & Kashmir - Category 'C' Circle

Who doesn't want to enjoy the beauty of Jammu & Kashmir while still being connected? Let's see which telco does it.

Airtel leads the coverage aspect, followed by Jio. Vi doesn't hold any spectrum in 800 and 900 bands. Airtel clearly takes the lead here as well in the capacity aspect with its massive holdings across 1800, 2100 and 2300 MHz bands. In the 2300 MHz band, both Airtel and Jio hold equal spectrum holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage – Airtel.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Jio.

9. Karnataka - Category 'A' Circle

Jio leads the coverage aspect with its spectrum holdings, followed by Airtel. In the capacity aspect, Airtel beats Jio and Vi and stands first with its holdings in 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands. Jio takes the lead in the 2300 MHz band with its massive 40 MHz holding. Unfortunately, Vi doesn't hold any spectrum in TDD bands, i.e. in its regular holding band 2500 MHz in general.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, followed by Airtel.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Jio.

10. Kerala - Category 'B' Circle

Kerala is Vi's base, if we go by the spectrum holdings, with a massive 24.8 MHz spectrum in the 900 MHz band, followed by Jio with 20 MHz holdings. Capacity-wise, too, Vodafone Idea wins with its highest spectrum holding across 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands, followed by airtel.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Vodafone Idea, followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, followed by Airtel.

11. Kolkata - Category 'Metro' Circle

Both Airtel and Vi hold the same quantity of spectrum in 900 MHz, but Jio takes the lead position with its 20 MHz holdings. Capacity-wise, Vi takes the lead with major spectrum holdings, followed by Jio.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, followed by Airtel/Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, followed by Jio.

12. Madhya Pradesh - Category 'B' Circle

Jio takes the lead in the coverage aspect with major holdings, followed by Vi. Capacity-wise, Airtel takes the lead with its spectrum holdings of 80 MHz across the bands, followed by Vi with just a difference of 2.8 MHz when compared to the former.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, followed by Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Airtel, closely followed by Vodafone Idea.

13. Maharashtra & Goa - Category 'A' Circle

Vi takes the lead, followed by Jio in the coverage aspect. In the capacity aspect as well, Vi takes the lead with its massive spectrum holdings of 94.8 MHz, followed by Airtel.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Vodafone Idea, followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, followed by Airtel.

14. Mumbai - Category 'Metro' Circle

Jio takes the lead with its massive holdings in the 800 MHz band in the coverage aspect, followed by Vi. In the capacity aspect, Vi takes the lead with 69.2 MHz, followed by Airtel with 62 MHz of spectrum holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, followed by Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, followed by Airtel.

15. North East - Category 'C' Circle

Airtel leads the coverage aspect, followed by Jio, while Vi doesn't hold any spectrum in the 900 MHz Band. In the capacity aspect, Vi takes the lead with 81.6 MHz, followed by Airtel with 80 MHz of spectrum holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Airtel, followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Vodafone Idea, closely followed by Airtel.

16. Odisha - Category 'C' Circle

Airtel leads the coverage aspect in Odisha, followed by Jio. Airtel leads the capacity holdings as well, with competitors nowhere close to its holdings of 78.8 MHz.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Airtel, closely followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Vodafone Idea.

17. Punjab - Category 'B' Circle

Airtel and Jio hold the same quantity of spectrum in the coverage bands – 800 MHz and 900 MHz, respectively. Airtel takes the lead in the capacity aspect with 80 MHz, followed by Jio and Vodafone with the same quantity of spectrum whose holdings are spread across multiple bands.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage: Airtel/Jio.

b) Capacity: Airtel, distantly followed by Jio/Vodafone Idea.

18. Rajasthan - Category 'B' Circle

Jio takes the lead in the coverage aspect with 20 MHz holdings, followed by Vi. Airtel takes the lead in the capacity aspect with a massive holding of 90 MHz, followed by Vi's 70 MHz holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, distantly followed by Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Vodafone Idea.

19. Tamil Nadu - Category 'A' Circle

Jio leads the coverage aspect with 20 MHz, followed by Airtel and Vodafone Idea with equal quantities of holdings. Whereas on the capacity front, Airtel takes the lead with its massive 90 MHz holdings, followed by Jio with 60 MHz overall holdings.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Jio, followed by Airtel/Vodafone Idea.

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Jio.

20. Uttar Pradesh East - Category 'B' Circle

Airtel takes the lead in the coverage aspect, followed by Jio with 20 MHz holdings. In the capacity aspect as well, Airtel leads with 82 MHz holdings, followed by Vi with 80 MHz.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Airtel, followed by Jio.

b) Capacity - Airtel, closely followed by Vodafone Idea.

21. Uttar Pradesh West - Category 'B' Circle

Vodafone Idea follows the lead in the coverage aspect with more than double the holding of Airtel or Jio. Airtel takes the lead in the capacity aspect with 90 MHz of spectrum holdings, followed by 70 MHz of Vi.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage - Vodafone Idea, followed by Airtel/Jio

b) Capacity - Airtel, distantly followed by Vodafone Idea

22. West Bengal - Category 'B' Circle

Jio leads the coverage aspect with 20 MHz holdings, followed by Airtel with 18.8 MHz holdings. Airtel leads the capacity aspect, followed by Vodafone Idea.

Coverage vs Capacity Winner:

a) Coverage: Jio, closely followed by Airtel.

b) Capacity: Airtel, followed by Vodafone Idea.

For detailed information on spectrum holdings, please refer to the excel sheet.

Reported By

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Tanay is someone with whom you can chill and talk about technology and life. A fitness enthusiast and cricketer, he loves to read and write.

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