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We consider the problem of positioning data collecting base stations in a sensor network. We show that in general, the choice of positions has a marked influence on the data rate, or equivalently, the power efficiency, of the network. In our model, which is partly motivated by an experimental environmental monitoring system, the optimum data rate for a fixed layout of base stations can be found by a maximum flow algorithm. Finding the optimum layout of base stations, however, turns out to be an NP-complete problem, even in the special case of homogeneous networks. Our analysis of the optimum layout for the special case of the regular grid shows that all layouts that meet certain constraints are equally good. We also consider two classes of random graphs, chosen to model networks that might be realistically encountered, and empirically evaluate the performance of several base station positioning algorithms on instances of these classes. In comparison to manually choosing positions along the periphery of the network or randomly choosing them within the network, the algorithms tested find positions, which significantly improve the data rate and power efficiency of the network.