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An access point relays radio frequency (RF) waves to devices in a wireless local area network (WLAN). To provide more range to a WLAN, a repeater accepts the signal, duplicates it, then re-transmits the signal. In a repeater access point, the repeater works in conjunction with the access point by relaying network signals to and from a user of a network device. The different functions are performed in the same unit. Although typically lower in cost, it is uncommon for repeaters to be sold separately in electronics stores, as they are most often sold together with access points in one package.
Internet access via wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) allows people to go online from home desktop computers, laptops, and even cellular phones and other types of mobile devices. The Web can be reached from anywhere in a home or office with a wireless access point, and the distance from which a computer can access the network is increased by using a device which is a repeater access point. A repeater retransmits radio signal frames that it receives, in order for areas of an office or home to be within range of a network they ordinarily wouldn’t be.
Repeaters have the ability to locate access points that are within a certain range of them. This is a repeater access point device's benefit because the signal repeater and access capability is contained within the same product. Most access points have a repeater mode, in which a user can set the repeaters service set identifier (SSID) to match the access point, or this can be accomplished automatically for the two to work together. The system that does this is a repeater access point that works similar to a wireless bridge, linking parts of the network. The access point alone is suitable for networks using one single protocol, but the bridge can connect areas using different ones.
The downside to what is a repeater access point is that the signals are each doubled up on the same RF channel, so twice as much data can be typically sent than without a repeater. The more repeaters added to the network, the less efficient it is. To increase efficiency, signals may be relayed over one channel and others over another. Any system consisting of more than two channels, however, is expensive considering the needs of a home or small office. A two-channel repeater access point is slightly faster than a single-channel device, which is one characteristic a user can consider when setting up a network.