Navigation and service

Electromagnetic fields

Mobile communication, WLAN & Co. - Grid expansion - Household appliances & electric installations

Elektromagnetische Felder

What are mobile communications?

How do mobile communications work? What is meant by the mobile communications standards GSM, UMTS and LTE? How high is the exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields from mobile communications base stations and mobile terminals, the mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers? Here you get information on the basic aspects of mobile communications.

High frequency electromagnetic fields

High frequency electromagnetic fields are used for speech and data transmission in mobile communication. Normally these fields are radiated by an antenna. In free space they propagate with the speed of light and thereby transmit energy and information on large distances. High frequency fields cover the frequency range from 100 kHz to 300 GHz of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio network cells

GSM standard

Between 1992 and 1995, the first completely digital mobile telephone networks went into operation in Germany. These networks, which are still used today, operate according to the GSM standard (Global System for Mobile Communications). They employ radio frequencies in the range of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz


LTE is a digital mobile communications technology and is considered the successor to UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System). Like UMTS and its extensions HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and HSPA+, also LTE is still allocated to the third generation of mobile communications (3G). That is why the designation 3.9G is sometimes used for LTE. Only its advancement, LTE-Advanced, meets all requirements imposed on mobile communications technologies of the fourth generation (4G) by standardisation bodies. In Germany, LTE has been available since the end of 2010 and LTE-Advanced was introduced in late 2014.

two young women using mobile phone and smart phone

Mobile terminals

Mobile terminals include classic mobile phones and smartphones in particular. Routers and tablet computers also belong to this group of devices if they are able to establish and use mobile radio connections. The devices generate high-frequency electromagnetic fields in order to communicate with a mobile phone base station. In almost all devices used today, the transmitter and receiver antennas are incorporated into the devices and not visible from the outside.


Mobile telephone networks of the third generation (3 G) have been operating in Germany since 2004. They are based on the digital transmission standard UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System). The frequency range allocated to the networks is between 1920 and 2170 MHz. Other mobile radio frequencies can be used as well.

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz