How cellular networks work

Forum Mobil - information about mobile communications, competence center for mobile communications

A cellular network is a network in the literal sense of the word: It is geographically divided into many adjoining radio cells, i.e. it has a cellular structure. Because the size of the radio cells is limited, the available radio channels can be used optimally: only by separating the cells spatially, the same frequencies can be used again at a sufficient distance. This is necessary because the number of existing radio channels is limited by state licensing.
Building a good cellular network is a real Herculean task. Customer needs change quickly and the network has to be adapted accordingly.
Aurora Soares, Director Network Rollout, Salt Mobile SA

The denser the population, the more cell phone antennas are needed.
The individual radio cells are usually built in a honeycomb shape and have very different sizes. In inner cities, where they only have to cover a few rows of houses, the cells sometimes measure less than 100 meters in diameter. In rural areas, however, there are also cells with a diameter of several kilometers.
Comparison of urban-rural distribution density of base stations
Limited capacity of the cells
Each radio cell is supplied by a so-called cellular base station. These permanently installed transmitting and receiving systems form the nodes of the cellular networks. Since each transmitter in a cellular cell can only supply a limited number of users, the steadily increasing demand for transmission capacities over the past few years has meant that operators have had to increase the number of cellular radio transmitters and thus also the number of radio cells. In this way, so-called high-load areas such as inner cities, airports or train stations can be supplied in a more targeted and efficient manner through the specific cut of the radio cells.
Complex structure of the cellular network

Each transmitting antenna can only cover a limited area. For mobile use, the cellular network must therefore be seamlessly expanded. In addition to the typical mobile radio systems, small systems and in-house systems are also used in densely populated areas.
The characteristics of a cellular network can thus be adapted to the needs of the user, so that sufficient transmission capacity, high quality of voice and data transmission with low error rates and area-wide usability - if possible also within buildings - are guaranteed.
Capacity limits