Why am I not being told this when I order a repeater over the internet?

Why am I not being told this when I order a repeater over the internet?

Poor cellular coverage has been a perturbing topic of discussion for some years now. All types of solutions to combat dead spots or poor signal quality have been implemented and the situation has not improved as expected. In urban areas, the use of cell extenders (repeaters or cell boosters) to address dead spots was expected to reach an overfill level, but the reverse is in actual fact being experienced, more and more dead spots are being created daily. This is partially due to the structures of the city skyline ever changing and cutting of the line of sight to base stations and very much due to the demand for broadband data frequencies which have difficulty penetrating concrete and brick buildings. The very high demand for 3G and 4G LTE is resulting in a race to plug holes before revenue escapes to the opposition or to other formats being offered.

Little focus is left for rural establishments. Rural areas have their own unique challenges. As the network providers are mandated primarily to providing coverage to populated urban areas, as their OPEX demands this, to satisfy the majority of subscribers and of course, their investors. So little joy is forthcoming to secluded farmers. As an example, a farmer may have recently been experiencing poor cell phone signal since an informal settlement started developing within a few kilometres from his homestead. This is a complaint that is increasingly forthcoming and one the farmer will have to overcome alone most of the time. Take into account that he is one subscriber airing a complaint as to hundreds or thousand airing complaints from the settlement. The lack of cellular communication adversely affects his business and his safety but the settlement has the right to coverage as much as he has. The fact that landlines are not being replaced has greatly impacted this communication deficiency and rural homesteaders have little else to turn to, as other communication being too expensive or ineffective. Much agricultural help and controlling devices make use of the cellular signal to activate or control. Once a farmer loses signal, not only can he not phone, he does not have access to his bank or the agricultural reports and products he uses daily. He cannot, for e.g., open his gate or switch on his pumps or activate his GSM alarm system.

The cell extender still provides one of the quickest and most cost effective solutions for weak cellphone signal, dropped calls and internet solutions. With the future promise of 4G LTE being readily available countrywide, better coverage, and better penetration of signal, there is light on the horizon.

But what repeater do I buy now? With companies selling repeaters as a DIY commodity many others questions arise. Low-cost appliances are manufactured using low-cost components that emit noise causing low throughput and causing problems for other users and the network itself. Noise creates a poor quality signal that is heard when talking and experienced as slow foot-dragging data. Data packets can even become corrupted. What must I understand about GSM900, DCS1800 and WCDMA2100? Isn’t cell phone signal, cell phone signal?

South Africa

The following networks operate in this country/area:

Cell C (Pty) Ltd (Cell C) GSM 900/1800
Cell C (Pty) Ltd (Cell C) 3G 2100
Mobile Telephone Networks (Pty) Ltd. (MTN-SA) GSM 900
Mobile Telephone Networks (Pty) Ltd. (MTN-SA) GSM 1800
Mobile Telephone Networks (Pty) Ltd. (MTN-SA) 3G 2100
Mobile Telephone Networks (Pty) Ltd. (MTN-SA) 3G 900
Telkom SA Ltd (8.ta) GSM 1800
Telkom SA Ltd (8.ta) 3G 2100
Vodacom Group (Pty) Ltd. (Vodacom) GSM 900
Vodacom Group (Pty) Ltd. (Vodacom) 3G 2100
Vodacom Group (Pty) Ltd. (Vodacom) LTE 1800


Repeaters for all these frequencies are available on the internet, but which do I buy if I do not know what is available in the sky above me? Maybe I need one that can do more than one frequency?

  • How do I measure these frequencies with my phone, using an app?
  • But remember I am on the ground? Must I stand on my chimney, will this be high enough?
  • Am I measuring what my situation is on the ground and on the hill behind my house – I am not measuring what it could be?
  • What measuring device should I then use?
  • What antenna should I use to measure this if I do not know what is up there?
  • At what height should I take these measurements?
  • Should I measure only GSM900, DCS1800 and WCDMA2100 or should I measure all four providers on all three frequencies?
  • What if there is more than one BTS (base transmitting station) available when measuring meters in the air which cannot be measured on the ground?
  • What if I amplify the wrong network’s signal and not my network and I am worse off?
  • What happens if I do install a repeater myself and it goes into oscillation (self-exciting feedback)?
  • Will this damage the repeater?
  • Does the warranty cover this?
  • What happens if there are voltage surges caused by lightning kilometres away or caused by load shedding or by unbalanced three phase electricity?
  • How should the repeater be protected against this?
  • What about insurance for this type of failure?
  • What coverage should I have after a successful installation?
  • Do I trust the indication e.g. 250m² on the box or is this dependent on many other variables?
  • What happens once I have coverage and my business has become reliant on this repeater and I have a failure? How long can I be without coverage?
  • How is it repaired or covered? Is it sent back overseas causing me to wait for 4~6 months or can repairs be affected in a specified period like 7 working days? Are there spares in SA for the brand I purchased? More than 90% of cheap Chinese repeaters can not be repaired in SA?
  • Why am I not being told this when I order a repeater over the internet? Why am I being told that any repeater will simply work for your requirement?

Before thinking of what repeater to buy, think who you are buying it from. Does the company supplying the service have the answers to the above questions or are they placing the responsibility on you to try to make it work? SSE Linkworld has 15 years of cellular coverage installation experience to assist you countrywide. We have the support of the network providers because SSE Linkworld respects that the cell phone network is not licensed to the public and we respect this fact. We have the means to offer you the professional service and warranty accordingly.

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