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What is Spectrum?

Spectrum was first held in 1930 as a forum for students of the University of
Saskatchewans College of Engineering to present their design projects to friends, family,
and faculty. Since then, Spectrum has grown to become known as North Americas
largest student-run exhibition of Science and Technology. The exhibition takes place
every three years and is organized by students from the College of Engineering; this year
it will take place from January 14th to 17th of 2016 and will feature workshops, speakers,
and of course student and industry exhibits and displays.

Spectrum 2013 featured over 40 displays and over 9,000 people participated in
the show, including nearly 3,000 elementary and high school students who got to
experience science and engineering outside their usual classroom environment. Spectrum
is a show for the entire family; all of the exhibits and displays at the exhibition are
targeted for a general audience, giving the public an opportunity to learn about
engineering and scientific developments in a more casual environment. There will be
many interactive exhibits that will enable visitors of all ages to have fun and learn science
and engineering in a whole new way.

The theme this year is Shaping the Future and the idea is that students of all
ages are shaping the scientific and technological future of the world. It seemed fitting
because the exhibition is run by students, and students form a large percentage of the
events attendance. A few new things we are looking to do this year include creating a
childrens workbook with activities and infographics that are applicable to elementary
school students, as well as making a permanent Spectrum display in the College of
Engineering building.

I am personally thrilled to be a part of Spectrum 2016 and with your help we

can make this the best Spectrum yet!

One more round of spectrum auction has brought the telecom sector back in
news. Telecom sector stocks have been volatile as competitive bids have raised
the spectrum auction prices. The sector creates a sense of awe on account of technical
jargons surrounding it. The entire auction process throws up an image of a Bollywood
movie where business men and women are trying to outbid each other. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
Here is an attempt to demystify the sector, understand what is spectrum, why
and how are they being auctioned and how would it impact the companies who are the
winners and what does it mean to the losers.

First lets understand what is being sold -- Spectrum.

We were first introduced to spectrum in school when we saw that seven colours
were produced when a white light hits a glass prism. In simple terms, spectrum can be
considered as a range of all lights of various wavelengths. But light is part of a larger
spectrum called the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. EM spectrum has in it a range of
similar EM radiations like visible light, infrared light, ultraviolet light, X-rays and the one
that is useful to us here is radio waves. As these are all radiations, they travel and spread
as they go.

Waves are defined by attributes of wavelength (length of the wave), amplitude

(height of the wave) and frequency (number of cycles per seconds). Radio waves are
those that have frequency of 3 kHz (3000 cycle per second) to 300 GHz (3 billion cycles
per second). Audible frequency for human is between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

Consider waves moving around us at different speeds (frequencies) between 3

kHz and 300 GHz. Different frequencies are utilised for different purposes. The Radio
FM stations air their channels around the 100 MHz frequencies. Out of these, government
of India has selected two -- 900 MHz and 1800 MHz to be auctioned
to telecom companies. Higher frequencies can carry more data per second. As in case of
radio, any company winning the licence of using a frequency has a natural monopoly over
the band.

By auctioning spectrum, government is actually attempting spectrum

management. Like land, mineral, oil, gas and water are exclusive property of a state, so is
radio frequencies. Government manage these frequencies, as it is scarce, for various uses
like telecom, radio, television and defence. Increasing applications and new technologies
such as 2G, 3G and 4G has further created a need for more spectrum. Within each
frequency, government splits it up into circles (cities or states) and divides it to various

The auction process

The present auction is being conducted online and is termed as a Simultaneous
Multiple Rounds Ascending (SMRA) e-auction. Government hopes to raise Rs 48,000
crore through this auction by giving away 403.2 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band and 46
MHz in the 900 MHz band. The spectrum available for licencing will be valid for 20
Bidders have a choice of paying the full amount upfront or defer it by paying
33 per cent of bid amount in 1,800 MHz and 25 per cent of bid amount in case of 900
MHz within 10 days of auction close. There is a moratorium of 2 years of payment of
balance amount which shall be recovered in 10 equal annual instalments which will
attract an interest of 10 per cent. Each applicant has to apply along with Earnest Money --
in the form of a bank guarantee, which changes as per circles as prescribed by the

There are two stages in the auction Clock stage and Frequency Identification
Stage. The clock stage will establish the bidders and number of blocks to be awarded in
each service area while the second stage will identify specific frequency blocks for the
winning bidders. Auctions on both the spectrum bands are being conducted

In the clock stage, bidding proceeds in rounds where bids can be placed for
some or all service areas. Bidders will be informed about the Clock Round Price per
block for each of the service areas in both the bands where spectrum is put to auction. In
each round, the bidders choice will be a Yes/No if he agrees to bid at the Clock Round
Price. If the answer is Yes, he then has to select the number of blocks in the area. In
1,800 MHz blocks of 200 kHz are on sale while in 900 MHz, each block size is of

In the first Clock round, the price per block will be the reserve price. In
subsequent rounds, the Clock Round price will be determined by the excess demand in
the previous Clock Round. The Clock Rounds will continue until demand can be satisfied
within each and every service area in each of the bands. Price increments will not be
more than 10 per cent of the previous Clock Round.

What does it mean for the winners and losers?

While the winners get the exclusive right to use the spectrum, those who have
lost the bid in that area will not be able to operate in it. They will not be able to get
subscribers in the area where they do not have a licence. However, if a consumer has a
connection of the particular telecom operator and travels to an area where the operator is
not present, he will be charged interconnect user charges.

Why are the bids so competitive?

For the serious players it makes sense to have a pan India presence, which is why we see
aggressive biddings in the present auction rounds as Vodafone and Bhartis licenses are
expiring in some of the metros.
What makes this auction all the more interesting is that a new player Reliance Jio,
the telecom arm of Reliance Industries is applying for the licence and would like to get
the maximum possible licences across the country. The number of spectrum he wins will
impact his pan India roll out plan.

How do spectrum prices impact consumers?

There are two ways a telecom company can recover their investment in getting
the spectrum license. First is by increasing their consumer base and second is by
increasing their tariffs.

For an existing player, increasing customer base is difficult in the current

scenario, thus the only option left is to increase tariffs. But that's easier said than done
given the current competetive scenario. Companies are thus introducing new applications
to supplement their revenue.


An optical spectrometer (spectrophotometer, spectrograph or spectroscope) is

an instrument used to measure properties of light over a specific portion of
the electromagnetic spectrum, typically used in spectroscopic analysis to identify
materials.[1] The variable measured is most often the light's intensity but could also, for
instance, be the polarization state. The independent variable is usually the wavelength of
the light or a unit directly proportional to the photon energy, such as reciprocal
centimeters or electron volts, which has a reciprocal relationship to wavelength.

A spectrometer is used in spectroscopy for producing spectral lines and

measuring their wavelengths and intensities. Spectrometers may also work operate over a
wide range of non-optical wavelengths, from gamma rays and X-rays into the far infrared.
If the instrument is designed to measure the spectrum in absolute unitsrather than relative
units, then it is typically called a spectrophotometer. The majority of spectrophotometers
are used in spectral regions near the visible spectrum.

In general, any particular instrument will operate over a small portion of this
total range because of the different techniques used to measure different portions of the
spectrum. Below optical frequencies (that is, at microwave and radio frequencies),
the spectrum analyzer is a closely related electronic device.

Spectrometers are used in many fields. For example, they are used in
astronomy to analyze the radiation from astronomical objects and deduce chemical
composition. The spectrometer uses a prism or a grating to spread the light from a distant
object into a spectrum. This allows astronomers to detect many of the chemical elements
by their characteristic spectral fingerprints. If the object is glowing by itself, it will show
spectral lines caused by the glowing gas itself. These lines are named for the elements
which cause them, such as the hydrogen alpha, beta, and gamma lines. Chemical
compounds may also be identified by absorption. Typically these are dark bands in
specific locations in the spectrum caused by energy being absorbed as light from other
objects passes through a gas cloud. Much of our knowledge of the chemical makeup of
the universe comes from spectra.

Prism spectrometer

Setup of a prism spectrometer

Setup of a prism spectrometer (low angle with light)

Setup of a prism spectrometer (high angle with light)

A prism spectrometer is an optical spectrometer which uses a dispersive

prism as its dispersive element. The prism refracts light into its
different colors (wavelengths). The dispersion occurs because the angle of refraction is
dependent on the refractive index of the prism's material, which in turn is slightly
dependent on the wavelength of light that is traveling through it.

Light is emitted from a source such as a vapor lamp. A slit selects a thin strip of
light which passes through the collimator where it gets parallelized. The aligned light then
passes through the prism in which it is refracted twice (once when entering and once
when leaving). Due to the nature of a dispersive element the angle with which light is
refracted depends on its wavelength. This leads to a spectrum of thin lines of light, each
being observable at a different angle.

Replacing the prism with a diffraction grating would result in a grating

spectrometer. Optical gratings are less expensive, provide much higher resolution, and are
easier to calibrate, due to their linear diffraction dependency. A prism's refraction angle
varies nonlinearly with wavelength. On the other hand, gratings have significant intensity


A prism spectrometer may be used to determine the composition of a material from its
emitted spectral lines.

Measurement of refractive index

A prism spectrometer may be used to measure the refractive index of a material if the
wavelengths of the light used are known. The calibration of a prism spectrometer is
carried out with known spectral lines from vapor lamps or laser light.

Using Spectrometer

Let's say you are sending a spacecraft to Mars. You'd like your spacecraft to
help you figure out what the rocks on Mars are made of.

Or, let's say you'd like to know what gases are in the planet Jupiter's

Or, maybe a strange gas has entered your school building and you'd like to
figure out if it's dangerous or not.

A spectrometer will help you in all these cases.

It turns out that different substances absorb or emit light at different

wavelengths in the ElectroMagnetic Spectrum.
If you shine the light you get from burning sodium into a prism or diffraction
grating or other spectrometer, you'll find that the light comes out in bands of color at
different places on the spectrum.

The amazing thing is, every time you see burning sodium, you'll see this same
pattern of light if you send it through a spectrometer. You will always see those same
bright aqua and green lines by themselves in the middle of the spectrum. These lines are
called spectral lines, and they are related to the way the atoms in the material are

Scientists have made catalogs of the spectral lines from thousands of different
materials. So, if you have an unknown substance, you can match up the spectral lines it
produces with the substances in these catalogs to figure out what your substance is made
of. Pretty clever, right?

We're going to make our own simple spectrometer, and then we'll practice
finding the spectral lines of substances. Finally, we'll try to figure out what some
unknown substances are made of using the Whyville Spectrometer.


Spectroradiometers are devices designed to measure the spectral power distribution of a

source. From the spectral power distribution, the radiometric, photometric,
and colorimetric quantities of light can be determined in order to measure, characterize,
and calibrate light sources for various applications.

Spectroradiometers typically take measurements of spectral irradiance and spectral

radiance. This spectral data can be used to calculate CIE tristimulus values through
mathematical integration. CIE chromaticity coordinates and luminosity can then be
calculated, providing a complete description of the sources color, including chromaticity,
spectral power, illuminance, and luminance.[1] Spectroradiometers are stand-alone systems
that work independently without the need to be connected to a PC. This makes them
highly portable while maintaining the accuracy of a spectrometer.

The field of spectroradiometry concerns itself with the measurement of absolute

radiometric quantities in narrow wavelength intervals. [3] It is useful to sample the
spectrum with narrow bandwidth and wavelength increments because many sources have
line structures [4] Most often in spectroradiometry, spectral irradiance is the desired
measurement. In practice, the average spectral irradiance is measured, shown
mathematically as the approximation:

Spectral irradiance will vary from point to point on the surface in general. In practice, it is
important note how radiant flux varies with direction, the size of the solid angle
subtended by the source at each point on the surface, and the orientation of the surface.
Given these considerations, it is often more prudent to use a more rigorous form of the
equation to account for these dependencies.

Note that the prefix spectral is to be understood as an abbreviation of the phrase

spectral concentration of which is understood and defined by the CIE as the quotient
of the radiometric quantity taken over an infinitesimal range on either side of a given
wavelength, by the range.

Spectral power distribution

The spectral power distribution (SPD) of a source describes how much flux reaches the
sensor over a particular wavelength and area. This effectively expresses the per-
wavelength contribution to the radiometric quantity being measured. The SPD of a source
is commonly shown as an SPD curve. SPD curves provide a visual representation of the
color characteristics of a light source, showing the radiant flux emitted by the source at
various wavelengths across the visible spectrum[7] It is also a metric by which we can
evaluate a light sources ability to render colors, that is, whether a certain color stimulus
can be properly rendered under a given illuminant.
Characteristic spectral power distributions (SPDs) for an incandescent lamp(left) and
a fluorescent lamp (right). The horizontal axes are in nanometersand the vertical axes
show relative intensity in arbitrary units.