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DCAN 14: Siting and Design of Radio Telecommunication Equipment


A passive electrical component which can transmit and receive radio waves.


Reduction in strength of a radio signal as a result of atmospheric absorption, obstruction by buildings etc.

Base Station

A fixed radio transmitter/receiver which electronically relays signals to and from handsets and other data terminals. Generally taken to include all the component of the development - the antenna, mast or supporting structure, equipment housing, cable runs, fencing, planting, landscaping, access, power supply and land lines.

Broadband Services

Services in which the bandwidth is sufficient to carry large volumes of data.

Code System Operator

An operator of a telecommunications system under Schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984, known as the ‘Telecommunications Code’.

De Minimis

This term covers minor works which, in relative terms, may not have a material effect on the external appearance of the building or structure on which they are installed. As a result they may not come within the legal definition of development and hence not require planning permission. Where such minor works are proposed to a listed building, however, listed building consent may still be required.

Directional Antenna

Any antenna which picks up or radiates antenna signals better in one direction than another.


2G, the second generation or GSM is the technology currently used in the operation of mobile phones.


3G or third generation is the generic term used for the next generation of mobile communications systems. The new systems will enhance the services available today and will offer multimedia and internet access and the ability to view video footage. The third generation technology used in the UK is called UMTS. These services operate at 2200 MHz. (2.2GHz).


First generation mobile phone technology which was phased out in the UK in 2001 with the introduction of second generation technology (GSM).


A structure which protects transmitters and receivers from damage. They can be in the form of large cabins or smaller cabinets.


A geographic area of coverage that a radio base stations covers.
Feeder cable
The co-axial cable which connects an antenna to a base station transmitter or receiver.


Frequency is the number of times per second at which an electromagnetic wave oscillates. It determines the wave’s properties and usage. Frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz). 1 Hz is one oscillation per second, 1 kHz a thousand, 1 MHz is a million and 1GHz is a thousand million. Frequencies between 30 kHz and 300 GHz are widely used for telecommunication, including broadcast radio and television, and comprise the radio frequency band. Mobile telephone systems currently operate at 900MHz and 1800MHz.


GSM - Global System for Mobile Communications or Groupe Speciale Mobile is the international, pan-European operating standard for the current generation of digital cellular mobile communications. It enables mobile phones to be used across national boundaries. GSM systems are operated by mm02 and Vodafone at 900 and 1800 MHz, and by One2One and Orange at 1800MHz.


The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is an independent scientific body which has produced an international set of guidelines for public exposure to radio frequency waves. These guidelines were recommended in the Stewart Report and adopted by the Government. The mobile network operators have accepted these guidelines and work within them.


A macrocell provides the largest area of coverage within a mobile network. The antennas for macrocells can be mounted on ground-based masts, rooftops or other existing structures. They must be positioned at a height that is not obstructed by terrain or buildings. Macrocells provide radio coverage over varying distances depending on the frequency used, the number of calls made and the physical terrain. Macrocell base stations have a typical power output in tens of watts.


A ground-based structure that supports antennas at a height where they can satisfactorily send and receive radio waves. A typical mast is 15m high, and of steel lattice or tubular steel construction. New slimmer versions of masts are now available which can be painted to blend in with their surroundings, disguised as trees or used in conjunction with street lighting. Masts themselves play no part in the transmission of the radio waves.


Microcells provide additional coverage and capacity where there are high numbers of users within urban and suburban macrocells. The antennas for microcells are mounted at street level, typically on the external walls of existing structures, lamp-posts and other street furniture. Microcell antennas are smaller than macrocell antennas and when mounted on existing structures can often by disguised as building features. Microcells provide radio coverage over distances, typically between 300m and 1000m and have lower output powers compared to macrocells, usually a few watts.


The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) has two main functions: to advance knowledge about the protection of mankind from radiation hazards and to provide information and advice to persons in the UK with responsibilities relating to protection from radiation hazards. The NRPB has produced a set of national guidelines for public exposure to Radio Frequency waves. These have the same scientific foundation as the ICNIRP guidelines.


A picocell provides more localised coverage than a microcell. These are normally found inside buildings where coverage is poor or there are a high number of users such as airport terminals, train stations or shopping centres.

Stub Mast

A roof-mounted mast structure which supports multiple antennas at a height where it can satisfactorily send and receive radio waves. A stub mast is typically 4m - 6m high and of steel lattice construction. Stub masts themselves play no part in the transmission of radio waves.


Electronic equipment that generates radio frequency electromagnetic energy and is connected to an antenna via a feeder cable.


Wavelength is the distance in metres between any two ‘similar’ points on a radio wave. This portion of the wave is referred to as one complete cycle. The lower the frequency of a wave the longer the wavelength.
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