A radio repeater is a combination of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter that receives a signal and retransmits it, so that two-way radio signals can cover longer distances. A repeater sited at a high elevation can allow two mobile stations, otherwise out of line-of-sight propagation range of each other, to communicate. Repeaters are found in professional, commercial, and government mobile radio systems and also in amateur radio.
Repeater systems use two different radio frequencies; the mobiles transmit on one frequency, and the repeater station receives those transmission and transmits on a second frequency. Since the repeater must transmit at the same time as the signal is being received, and may even use the same antenna for both transmitting and receiving, frequency-selective filters are required to prevent the receiver from being overloaded by the transmitted signal. Some repeaters use two different frequency bands to provide isolation between input and output or as a convenience.
In a communications satellite, a transponder serves a similar function, but the transponder does not necessarily demodulate the relayed signals.
Full duplex operation
A repeater is an automatic radio-relay station, usually located on a mountain top, tall building, or radio tower. It allows communication between two or more bases, mobile or portable stations that are unable to communicate directly with each other due to distance or obstructions between them.
The repeater receives on one radio frequency (the "input" frequency), demodulates the signal, and simultaneously re-transmits the information on its "output" frequency. All stations using the repeater transmit on the repeater's input frequency and receive on its output frequency. Since the repeater is usually located at an elevation higher than the other radios using it, their range is greatly extended.
Because the transmitter and receiver are on at the same time, isolation must exist to keep the repeater's own transmitter from degrading the repeater receiver. If the repeater transmitter and receiver are not isolated well, the repeater's own transmitter desensitizes the repeater receiver. The problem is similar to being at a rock concert and not being able to hear the weak signal of a conversation over the much stronger signal of the band.
In general, isolating the receiver from the transmitter is made easier by maximizing, as much as possible, the separation between input and output frequencies.
When operating through a repeater, mobile stations must transmit on a different frequency than the repeater output. Although the repeater site must be capable of simultaneous reception and transmission (on two different frequencies), mobile stations can operate in one mode at a time, alternating between receiving and transmitting; so, mobile stations do not need the bulky, and costly filters required at a repeater site. Mobile stations may have an option to select a "talk around" mode to transmit and receive on the same frequency; this is sometimes used for local communication within range of the mobile units.