What is a Network Repeater?

Network Repeater is an electronic device that receives a signal and retransmits it. It receives the signal before it becomes too weak or corrupted. It regenerates the bit and forwards the refreshed signal. A repeater operates at the physical layer of the OSI model.

Why are Repeaters needed?

In networking, a repeater is used to connect two LAN signals. It is not possible to connect all the devices through wires. Repeater makes it easy to expand the coverage and access network to a greater scale with the same signal strength. Repeaters are used to extend transmissions so that the signal can cover long distances. It creates an extended range of the signal and makes it accessible till the destination which was not possible only with the router.

In a wireless communication system, a repeater takes the existing signal from an access point and rebroadcasts to create a second network. This is a two-port device. This is commonly used in homes and small offices to make the signal available to a larger extent. This strengthens the signal and extends the coverage area of the Wi-Fi network.

A repeater is often considered as a non-logical device as it rebroadcasts each bit by bit regardless of its feature. It supports both analog and digital signals. It removes unwanted noise from the signal. Even when the signal is weak or distorted it is absorbed and is strengthened again. Digital repeaters can even reconstruct the signals which are distorted by transmission. It repropagates a broken signal.

Repeaters are easy to install. It is cost-effective and does not require a unique installation process. A few of the disadvantages are; it connects only to a similar network, it cannot differentiate noise, it cannot reduce traffic or congestion, and routers or networks might have limitations on the number of repeaters that can be installed.

Types of Repeaters

According to the types of signals that they regenerate, repeaters can be classified into two categories −

  • Analog Repeaters − They can only amplify the analog signal.
  • Digital Repeaters − They can reconstruct a distorted signal.

Regarding to the types of networks that they connect, repeaters can be categorized into two types −

  • Wired Repeaters − They are used in wired LANs.
  • Wireless Repeaters − They are used in wireless LANs and cellular networks.

According to the domain of LANs they connect, repeaters can be divided into two categories −

  • Local Repeaters − They connect LAN segments separated by small distance.
  • Remote Repeaters − They connect LANs that are far from each other.

Advantages of Repeaters

  • Repeaters are simple to install and can easily extend the length or the coverage area of networks.
  • They are cost effective.
  • Repeaters don’t require any processing overhead. The only time they need to be investigated is in case of degradation of performance.
  • They can connect signals using different types of cables.

Disadvantages of Repeaters

  • Repeaters cannot connect dissimilar networks.
  • They cannot differentiate between actual signal and noise.
  • They cannot reduce network traffic or congestion.
  • Most networks have limitations upon the number of repeaters that can be deployed.

For home, or small office networks, where the signal expansion is required, a repeater will be a more effective solution.

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