15 April 2010


Definition: Network repeaters regenerate incoming electrical, wireless or optical signals. With physical media like Ethernet or Wi-Fi, data transmissions can only span a limited distance before the quality of the signal degrades. Repeaters attempt to preserve signal integrity and extend the distance over which data can safely travel.

Actual network devices that serve as repeaters usually have some other name. Active hubs, for example, are repeaters. Active hubs are sometimes also called "multiport repeaters," but more commonly they are just "hubs." Other types of "passive hubs" are not repeaters. In Wi-Fi, access points function as repeaters only when operating in so-called "repeater mode."

Higher-level devices in the OSI model like switches and routers generally do not incorporate the functions of a repeater. All repeaters are technically OSI physical layer devices.

Repeaters are often used in trans-continental and submarine communications cables, because the attenuation (signal loss) over such distances would be unacceptable without them. Repeaters are used in both copper-wire cables carrying electrical signals, and in fiber optics carrying light.

Repeaters are used in radio communication services. Radio repeaters often transmit and receive on different frequencies. A special subgroup of those repeaters is those used in amateur radio.

Repeaters are also used extensively in broadcasting, where they are known as translators, boosters or TV relay transmitters.

When providing a point-to-point telecom link using radio beyond line of sight, one uses repeaters in a microwave radio relay. A reflector, often on a mountaintop, that relays such signals around an obstacle, is called a passive repeater or Passive Radio Link Deflection. A microwave repeater in a communications satellite is called a transponder.


In optical communications the term repeater is used to describe a piece of equipment that receives an optical signal, converts that signal into an electrical one, regenerates it, and then retransmits an optical signal. Since such a device converts the optical signal into an electrical one, and then back to an optical signal, they are often known as Optical-Electrical-Optical (OEO) repeaters.

Before the invention of electronic amplifiers, mechanically coupled carbon microphones were used as amplifiers in telephone repeaters. The invention of the audion tube made transcontinental telephony practical. In the 1930s vacuum tube repeaters using hybrid coils became commonplace, allowing the use of thinner wires. In the 1950s negative impedance gain devices were more popular, and a transistorized version called the E6 repeater was the final major type used in the Bell System before the low cost of digital transmission made all voiceband repeaters obsolete. Frequency frogging repeaters were commonplace in frequency-division multiplexing systems from the middle to late 20th century.

source : About.com

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