Guide to Repeaters
What is a repeater?
A repeater is a device that captures a weak signal from far away and re-broadcasts it in your local area.
Your devices will lock on to the repeater's strong and reliable signal, ignoring the faint signal from far away.
Why do I need a repeater?
If you have weak or spotty mobile phone or mobile data connection coverage, a repeater is one tool that you can easily set up so you can start enjoying improved service quality.
Why Repeaters Are Not Ideal For Data
Repeaters are only capable of repeating a single frequency band at a time at a single bandwidth, usually a low bandwidth. You may get a signal, but if you are after higher speeds you are actually better off using a powerful modem instead of a repeater. A powerful modem is capable of combining multiple frequency bands at multiple bandwidths to produce a much higher aggregate speed. With a powerful modem and a modern phone capable of WiFi calling, you can usually achieve much better performance for both data and calls.
What is a Smart Repeater?
The Cel-Fi Mobile Smart Repeater is a convenient solution to poor indoor phone coverage.
Installing this device in your home can improve the reliability of phone calls, text messages, and increase 3G and 4G mobile broadband signal.
For areas with poor outdoor coverage, this model has an external antenna connector to allow the connection of an external antenna - to achieve this, the smart antenna system comprises of two units:
The window/network unit
This is the primary receiver and transmitter - it simply receives and transmits at the power of a normal mobile phone - without amplification. This means that those of us in low signal areas will still need to connect it to an external antenna via the small gold SMA Female connector underneath. It then communicates this signal wirelessly to the second 'Coverage' unit.
The coverage unit
When placed deep within the house or office where signal is weakest, this unit will receive the mobile phone signal (over the 5GHz band) from the Window Unit and rebroadcast it at full strength throughout the house.
This special two-hop system allows mobile phones to pick up and transmit the signal at full strength, without the system actually broadcasting any louder to the outside world - i.e. without jamming your neighbours' signal or overloading the cell tower.
Why do I need to connect an external antenna?
Smart repeaters transmit and receive at the same strength as a normal mobile phone. As the old adage goes, 'garbage in, garbage out' - if the repeater is receiving a poor quality signal, all it will do is transmit that poor quality signal louder throughout the building.
Connecting an external aerial is a quick way to dramatically improve signal levels, allowing the repeater to boost call quality, mobile broadband speed, and reduce 3G drop-outs - easy-peasy!
Don't get caught buying an illegal (unlicensed) repeater
Under Australian law, repeaters must be licensed through a carrier (i.e. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) to be legal. There are a number of suppliers, many online, who claim their products are licensed when in fact they're not - this means that should you be caught using them, you may face heavy fines and in some cases jail time.
The Cel-Fi Smart Repeater is the only one that is licensed by most Australian carriers.