Airtel, Reliance Jio Lock Horns Over Removal of In-Band Spectrum Cap: Reports

Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecom operator, and Reliance Jio have now locked horns over the cap on spectrum holdings in a band. In a note to the regulator, the Sunil Mittal-led telco has reportedly opposed any removal or relaxation of the upper limit on spectrum holding in a band from the present 50%, while the Mukesh Ambani-led Jio believes the 50% in-band cap should be done away with, as technology has become spectrum-agnostic.


Bharti Airtel said that the cap should stay to ensure no telecom player is able to create a monopoly, and gains dominance in holding of airwaves in any particular band, according to media reports.

Airtel’s views come amid speculations that Jio may acquire Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications’ spectrum in the 800 Mhz band. This band is considered to be the most efficient frequency available at present for 4G services. RCom already shares its spectrum holding in 800 Mhz bands with Jio.

The telecom regulator had earlier sought service providers’ views on spectrum caps through a closed consultation process. As per rules, spectrum cap is the limit of the spectrum telcos can hold for providing services. The cap is 25% of the overall airwaves assigned in a telecom circle to a telco, and 50% in a particular spectrum band.

Business Standard, citing sources, reported that Airtel also wants the overall cap of 25% to be increased to 33%.

A separate Economic Times report said that Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, like Reliance Jio, also want the rules to be relaxed. The report added that any move to relax caps will help Vodafone and Idea retain a small part of their spectrum which they would have to surrender or sell upon their merger since they exceed the limit.

RCom, in its view, has also said that both inter-band and intra-band limits should be removed. Interestingly, RCom earlier this week said that Jio is interested in its assets.

Notably, the telecom department had asked the telecom regulator to provide views on spectrum cap before the government takes any policy decision on the issue, following the inter-ministerial group’s (IMG) recommendation on revising spectrum cap limit which would facilitate exit route for loss-making telecom companies.

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35 Comments on "Airtel, Reliance Jio Lock Horns Over Removal of In-Band Spectrum Cap: Reports"


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November 3, 2017 11:57 pm 11:57 PM

Government should relax total spectrum cap. There are only four major players left. There won’t t be much spectrum demand in the next 2 to 3 years..

Even idea Vodafone excess spectrum will be surrendered , then there won’t t be buyers at the moment for the same.

November 3, 2017 11:52 pm 11:52 PM

Airtel is interested in band 5 for better indoor coverage. If spectrum cap is relaxed , jio will bid for band 5 in auctions & hence airtel will have to pay more or may be refrain from buying expensive band 5 as they have good back up in low band spectrum (900 MHz) in most circles. No other player interested in band 5.

They don’t want jio to get further band 5 , as jio is already having advantage of better indoor coverage.

Kirti Khurana
November 4, 2017 3:08 pm 3:08 PM

700 , 850 & 900 should be distributed amongst Airtel Jio & VodaIdea respectively in 20 MHz carrier for 4G. problem solved.

November 5, 2017 9:50 am 9:50 AM

Really a good statement. Govt should really has to think like this for users to get a high class and fantastic coverage (indoors) and fine experience with the service.

Tapan B
November 3, 2017 9:36 pm 9:36 PM
Airtel is an anti customer company. First they looted the customers and have stupid after sales support, their support executives would always say that their systems are down for maintenance and one should call after 4 hours. But after entrance of jio, this has gone away (phew) via then they started moaning about ICU charges, coz they didn’t want the call rate to get cheaper but they want to get it more expensive, another anti customer step. They were again let down ICU charges by Trai. Everybody know their network sucks but still they keep on showing that silly girl… Read more »
November 5, 2017 9:54 am 9:54 AM

Right. Everyone is not able to buy unlimited packs like 171, 199 or 300+ . They should give reasonable rate cutters, so that those who are not spending more than Rs.50 or Rs.100, can use it for the calling purpose.

November 4, 2017 12:28 pm 12:28 PM

Airtel had good 3G network, so it was good to support them then even if they were costly..
But now I don’t find any reason to be fanboy of this crap company.