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Mobile Devices & Networks

When you make a call on your mobile phone, it emits radio waves (also known as radio frequency or 'RF' energy) that are then transmitted to the nearest base station.

A base station consists of one or more radio transmitters and receivers as well as radio antennas that communicate with individual mobile phones in the area.

Once a base station receives the radio waves from a mobile phone, it forwards these to another point (called a 'switch') which then forwards the call to another base station or to the fixed line network depending on the type of call being made. Base stations have two limiting factors - one is the capacity of calls that they can handle, and the other is the geographical area that they can cover.

To overcome these limitations, base stations are located in strategic areas, known as 'cells'. Base stations, when correctly located, allow the available radio frequency to be reused in other cells, thereby allowing the network to handle many more calls. It also means that the base station must operate at low power levels so that it does not interfere with other base stations in the area.

Comparative analyses of data from surveys of base stations measurements have shown that irrespective of country, year and mobile technology RF fields at a ground level were only a small fraction of the international human RF exposure recommendations. Importantly, there has been no significant increase in typical measured levels since the introduction of 3G services and that the environmental levels have remained essentially constant despite the increasing number of base stations and deployment of additional mobile technologies.

For more information download our International Comparison of Base Station Exposure Levels Viewpoint