A traditional cell site includes an antenna structure with multiple antennas connected to low powered radio transmitters and receivers. Antennas are usually located 50’ to 150’ above ground level.
Base stations house radio transceivers and amplifiers that provide linkage to the site's antennas and to the high-speed connections (usually fiber optic cable) back to legacy telephone system.
High-speed connectivity from cell sites back to the core telecommunications network is called “backhaul.” Fiber optic cable is the fastest technology and is usually used to handle the most data (think 12-lane superhighway).
In some instances – especially when sending signals over long distances in rural areas, or in places where fiber optic cable is not a viable option – T-Mobile uses very fast and highly dependable microwave transmissions for backhaul.
Switches channel incoming data from multiple locations and send the information to its intended destination.
Circuit-switching – used for voice connections – allows for a continuously connected, dedicated path from one caller to another.
Packet-switching – used for data (texts, pictures, video, etc.) – divides a message into packets that travel on the same paths and at the same time for all network users.
Public Telephone Network
Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) refers to all the voice-oriented public telephone networks – both commercial and government-operated – that have evolved since the beginning of telephony. Telephone calls from mobile phones are routed onto the POTS via the switch.