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baseband unit (BBU)

Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

A baseband unit (BBU) is a device that interprets baseband frequencies in telecom systems including computer networks, the internet, phone networks and radio broadcasting systems. A baseband frequency is a transmission at its original frequency, before it has been altered or modulated, and it usually has a frequency range close to zero.

Mechanical engineers and telecom professionals use BBU devices to improve the connection between communication equipment. BBUs are manufactured with a modular design that allows them to perform multiple functions and fit easily into standard physical equipment. When data is passed from various points through a network to its end target, the BBU acts as a switchboard that connects the data to multiple locations (for instance, a Mobile Telephone Switching Office). Once a wireless signal is connected, it can be translated into information that is usable by an application or end user.

Typically, a BBU connects to a remote radio unit (RRU) or remote radio head (RRH), both of which are types of transceivers that facilitate wireless or wired connections with a radio station or other endpoint. These are sometimes also referred to as lowpass frequencies.

Characteristics of baseband units

BBU devices are small and easy to incorporate into server rooms, business centers or any central location that allows them to act as a midpoint. Additionally, BBUs have low power consumption and are simple to deploy. This allows them to be easily implemented, replaced or updated within a telecom system.

When placed in an equipment room, BBUs are typically connected to the RRU using optical fiber. It is then responsible for communicating through a physical interface.

Types of baseband units

BBUs can come in a variety of shapes and implementations, including:

  • Individual baseband processing blocks, or objects within receivers that translate data from a wireless signal.
  • Ethernet processing cables or internet cables used to decipher information from a wired baseband signal.
  • Digital BBUs.
  • Rectangular-shaped BBUs, similar to a car radio.
  • Flat BBUs, similar to a circuit.
  • Cylindrical-shaped BBUs.
This was last updated in April 2019

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