What is a base station and how are 4G/5G base stations different?

Base station is a stationary trans-receiver that serves as the primary hub for connectivity of wireless device communication.

Ayushi Singh
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Base Transceiver Station

The architecture of the 5G network must enable sophisticated applications, which means the base stations design required must also be specialist.


A base station is referred to a stationary trans-receiver used in telecommunications that serves as the primary hub for connectivity of wireless device communication.

A base station also links the gadget to other devices or network, typically using fibre optic cables or dedicated high bandwidth wire. Since they can receive and send wireless signals, base stations are typically trans receivers, if they could just send out wireless signals, they would be referred to as transmitters or broadcast points.

To accommodate the growing demand, the number of base stations is expected to keep growing. With each passing day more number of customers are using their smartphones for data-intensive tasks, which strains the capacity of the current towers. As mmWave signals, which are frequently used by 5G high-speed cell technologies, might differ from the same coverage as 4G and 3G signals, they will need specialist base stations.


The term "cell towers" is most generally used to refer to base stations in cellular telephone networks. Each mobile device connects to the cell tower, which then links it to the wired public switched telephone network (PSTN), the internet, or other mobile devices within the cell. The size of a base station is determined by the geographic region, the number of customers it can back, and the size of the coverage area.

The transition to 5G, which is currently in early phases, will co-exist with earlier ones. How? First and foremost, a large expenditure will be needed to implement 5G technology. It will require cooperation from providers and is time-consuming at the same time. However, it will occur overtime, as it is already underway in certain major cities.

The architecture of the 5G network must enable sophisticated applications, which means the base stations design required must also be specialist. With 5G we are discussing massive data quantities or data transmission over long distances. Applications for 5G networks include manufacturing, smart farming, smart cities and even urban planning.


The Internet of Things (IoT) and the explosive expansion of smartphones are thanks to 4G which was first launched in the market in 2009. Since 4G has been such a success, most of us these days use 4G, we want even vast and quicker.

The following technologies are only a few of the commonalities between 4G and 5G: IP unified, Integration of WLAN, LAN, and WAN/PAN in a seamless manner, 4G LTE (long-term evolution), is one of the spectrums that 5G uses. But altogether, they are very different from one another.

The designing of a 5G base station depends on various factors along with a number of obstacles that must be considered. Whether the application relies more on bandwidth, distance or a combination of the two? What kind of power is needed? In comparison to 4G base stations, 5G base stations often require more than twice as much electricity.


Non-standalone base station

The operators have two options to think about in the 5G network planning while switching from 4G core to 5G non-standalone (NSA) or standalone (SA) infrastructure. Instead of building a new core for 5G architecture, NSA enables cellular operators to take advantage of the expenditure they have already made in the 4G network. Due to this, 5G base station prices are significantly lower than SA infrastructure. Operators can increase data speeds while reducing costs and generating new 5G income by:

Adopting software-determined networking (SDN) and virtualizing Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) will minimize CAPEX and OPEX for the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), which can be supported by the existing Evolved Packet Core (EPC).


New RAN is stationed alongside 4G or LTE radio with an already existing 4G core or EPC as part of the NSA structure. The two new radio frequency ranges enable higher data bandwidth. Range 1: 450 MHz to 6000 MHz, often known as sub-6 GHz and Range 2: major mmWave band, 24 GHz-52GHz.

Standalone base station

The 3GPP Project's brand-new standards, form the foundation of 5G network design. This is the body that establishes global norms for all mobile communications. According to 3GPP, SA is the new core architechture. It brings about important adjustments.

  • Interconnected Network Functions(NFs) that are a part of a Service-Based Achitecture(SBA) provide control plane capabilities and access to shared data repositories.
  • Divides various network functions.
  • Better service assurance and ened-to-end high speed.
  • A new radio is involved in 5G Standalone. It consists of- Cloud-native architecture (CNA) that is virtualization offers new techniques for creating, stationing, and managing services.
  • Its SBA implements 5G software network functionalities via an edge technology infrastructure.
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