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What Is A Repeater?

What Is A Repeater

Date First Published: 17th June 2022

Topic: Computer Networking

Subtopic: Network Hardware

Article Type: Computer Terms & Definitions

Difficulty: Medium

Difficulty Level: 5/10

Learn more about what a repeater is in this article.

A repeater, also known as a signal booster, is a device that regenerates traffic signals in order for one network to cover a longer physical distance without it losing quality. In other words, they relay transmitted signals. Because repeaters work with the actual physical signal and do not interpret the data that is being transmitted, they operate at the physical layer of the OSI model.

Although repeaters were originally introduced in wireless networks due to limitations in signals covering a longer distance, they are most commonly used in wireless networks. For example, a Wi-Fi network may use a repeater to extend the distance of the signal so that it covers different areas of the house as obstructions and long distances will reduce the quality of the signal.

Several repeaters are often used in businesses so that a wireless network covers a large building. A repeater that extends the range and strength of a Wi-Fi signal is known as a range extender or a wireless repeater.

Note: Info Icon

Repeaters are not to be confused with bridges, which join two networks together. No traffic filtering takes place in a repeater.

How Do Repeaters Work?

Repeaters work by receiving a signal on a specific frequency and then amplifying and rebroadcasting it, increasing the transmission range of the original signal. This will boost the coverage of a wireless network. For example, if the main room downstairs in a home receives a weak signal from a router located in an upstairs office, there would be two options. The router could be relocated so that it is closer to the main room, but this may also mean that the upstairs office will get a weak signal.

The other option is to set up a repeater on the downstairs floor that is halfway between the upstairs office and the main room. It is very important that it is in a central location rather than a corner. The repeater should amplify the signal enough to get a strong enough signal in the main room. In large buildings, several different repeaters can be set up to draw the signal where required.

The repeater must be within the wireless range of the wireless router. It would be useless to place a repeater outside of the wireless range of the router as the devices would not be able to communicate with each other.

Data Handling

There are two types of repeaters, depending on the type of data that they handle. These include:

  • Analogue repeater – Used in channels that transmit data in the form of an analogue signal where there is a continuous range of values representing one quantity that is analogous to another quantity. For example, the voltage may be proportionate to the amplitude of the signal.
  • Digital repeater – Used in channels that transmit data in the form of binary digital signals, where each bit represents two different amplitudes. There are only two possible values, representing the binary digits 1 and 0.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Repeaters

The advantages of repeaters are:
  • They are easy to install and set up.
  • They can extend the coverage area of networks. This is useful if a room that was outside of the coverage area of a wireless router needed internet access.
  • Different types of cables can be used to connect signals together using repeaters.
The disadvantages of repeaters are:
  • They cannot connect separate networks together, like bridges.
  • In terms of the number of repeaters that can be used, most networks have limitations.


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