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A cordles telephone, also known as a portable telephone, act's just like a normal phone, except for the fact that it works without cords.
A wired base station, communicates with the wireless handset through radio waves, and this usually only works within a limited range (eg. within a house or office).
A cordless phone is different then a mobile phone, for this very reason, that it needs to communicate with a wired base station, unlike a mobile phone that doesn't need a base station, which allows it to communicate outside of its fixed area.
According to Wikipedia a Cordless Telephone is:
"A cordless telephone or portable telephone is a telephone with a wireless handset that communicates via radio waves with a base station connected to a fixed telephone line, usually within a limited range of its base station (which has the handset cradle). The base station is on the subscriber premises, and attaches to the telephone network the same way a corded telephone does."