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Base station

Base station

Base station

What is a base station?

In telecommunications, a base station is a fixed transceiver that is the main communication point for one or more wireless mobile client devices.

A base station serves as a central connection point for a wireless device to communicate. It further connects the device to other networks or devices, usually through dedicated high bandwidth wire or fiber optic connections. Base stations are generally a transceiver, capable of sending and receiving wireless signals; otherwise, if they only transmitted signals out, they would be considered a transmitter or broadcast point. A base station will have one or more radio frequency (RF) antennas to transmit and receive RF signals to other devices.

Base stations are also central points that all clients connect to in a hub and spoke style network; it would not be a client among similar peers. Generally, if client devices wanted to communicate to each other, they would communicate both directly with the base station and do so by routing all traffic through it for transmission to another device.

What do base stations look like?

Base stations usually consist of a small equipment cabinet or hut, and antennas mounted on a support structure.

The antenna support structure can vary considerably.  Typical examples are: 

  • Buildings
  • Light poles
  • Towers or masts

Base station antennas are usually located on the most suitable structure in the area for example an existing building, tower or structure.  Sometimes a new tower or mast is required if there are no existing structures.  Each base station is connected to the main telephone network either via a microwave link using a small dish antenna, or via optical fibre cable.

What different types of base stations are there?

Base stations are broadly divided into the following categories

  • Macro cells – towers, masts and poles providing wide are coverage
  • Micro cells – small antennas at street level providing local area coverage
  • Pico cells – very small antennas providing dedicated coverage spots
  • In Building Systems – small antennas inside a building providing dedicated coverage
  • Are base stations safe – Is it safe to live near a base station?

    Base stations operate at low power.   Independent surveys demonstrate that the background EMF level in the community from base stations is very low, and similar to environmental EMF levels from broadcast radio and television.

    The World Health Organization monitors scientific research into EMF and concludes,

    “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects”

    In 2009 and 2010, the International Commission for Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) reaffirmed the EMF safety guidelines following a review of national and international EMF research and published scientific literature.


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