How mobiles work

Mobile devices use radio waves, also called radio frequency (RF) fields, to send and receive calls, texts, emails, pictures, web, TV and downloads.

The RF field carries a signal to the nearest base station (often called masts or antennas), which sends the signal to a digital telephone exchange and on to the main telephone network. This connects the signal to the receiving mobile, again via a base station (if it is another mobile device). Without base stations mobiles will not work and we cannot connect our customers’ calls.

Mobiles connect to the base station providing the best signal – usually the nearest. The more power a mobile uses, the greater the potential exposure to RF fields, however the mobile automatically adjusts to use the minimum power needed to communicate with the base station. This depends on a range of factors, including:

  • The distance between the mobile and the base station
  • The landscape and buildings between the mobile and the base station
  • The operating frequency band at a given time
  • The service the mobile is being used for (e.g. texting, data or voice calls).

If they would like to, people can reduce their RF exposure from using a mobile device, as indicated by the WHO. Read more here.

Read more about base stations and the factors affecting the power a mobile uses.