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  4. Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many base station sites are there?

A: As of November 2013, there are about 52,500 in the UK. Two-thirds of these are on existing structures and buildings.


Q: Why do we need more base stations?

A: Each base station can only carry a limited number of calls or data at any one time. In order to satisfy increasing customer demand for mobile services, increased data, or to improve call quality, additional base stations are required in busy areas.


Q: What forms of infrastructure sharing is there?

A: The Government encourages operators to share sites:

  • Mast sharing is where two or more mobile phone operators put their base station antenna on the same ground based mast or tower.
  • Site sharing is where two or more operators locate their own ground-based masts on the same land, or in the same location.
  • Co-location is when two or more operators place there antenna on the same building or structure, which is not a ground based mast.

Currently, around two thirds of radio base stations in the UK are either shared or placed on existing buildings or structures.


Q: Will 4G (Generation) result in more mobile phone masts?

A: The 4G networks are being planned around existing 2G and 3G networks. Operators are encouraged to reduce costs through network sharing. As such, new network development is largely undertaken on a shared basis between operators. It is anticipated that, the deployment of 4G will be largely achieved through upgrading of existing sites. In addition, Government specifically introduced changes in August 2013 to permitted development rights, which further encourages the sharing of sites and infrastructure.

To meet demand, more sites will be required to extend coverage into new areas, to increase capacity and where the operator has to relocate from an existing site, for example, to facilitate its redevelopment. However, where new sites are required, operators should explore first the possibility of using any existing structures before looking to develop a new mast and the use of small cell antennae where practical.