Base Station

What Does Base Station Mean?

A base station is a fixed communications location and is part of a network’s wireless telephone system. It relays information to and from a transmitting/receiving unit, such as a mobile phone. Often referred to as a cell site, a base station allows mobile phones to work within a local area, as long as it is linked to a mobile or wireless service provider.


Techopedia Explains Base Station

A base station is normally positioned in a location far above the grounded area providing coverage. Different types of base stations are set up according to the coverage needed, as follows:

  • Macrocells: are base stations covering a service provider’s largest areas and are usually situated in rural areas and highways.
  • Microcells are low-power base stations covering areas where a mobile network requires additional coverage to maintain quality of service to subscribers. They usually are situated in suburban and urban areas.
  • Picocells are smaller base stations providing more localized coverage in areas with many users where network quality is poor. Picocells are usually placed inside buildings.

One service provider may have several base stations positioned to cover specific areas. Ideally, bandwidth requirements serve as a guideline regarding base stations location and relative distance. In most cases, 800 MHz base stations have a greater point-to-point distance than 1900 MHz stations. The number of base stations depends on population density and any geographic irregularities interfering with the transmittal of information, such as buildings and mountain ranges.

The base station is essential for mobile phones to work correctly and optimally. If there are not enough base stations in an area with too many network subscribers or geographic interferences, quality of service is greatly affected. In these cases, base stations are located in areas of closer proximity to subscribers.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…