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Bit rate

The rate of binary digits flowing in a digital data-processing system. Bit rates are expressed as the number of bits per second (bps or Kbps) traveling through a digital stream.

In telecommunications and computing, bit rate (bitrate or as a variable R) is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time.

The bit rate is quantified using the bits per second unit (symbol: "bit/s"), often in conjunction with an SI prefix such as "kilo" (1 kbit/s = 1,000 bit/s), "mega" (1 Mbit/s = 1,000 kbit/s), "giga" (1 Gbit/s = 1,000 Mbit/s) or "tera" (1 Tbit/s = 1000 Gbit/s).[2] The non-standard abbreviation "bps" is often used to replace the standard symbol "bit/s", so that, for example, "1 Mbps" is used to mean one million bits per second.

In most environments, one byte per second (1 B/s) corresponds to 8 bit/s.

When quantifying large bit rates, SI prefixes (also known as metric prefixes or decimal prefixes) are used, thus:

  • 1,000 bit/s rate = 1 kbit/s (one kilobit or one thousand bits per second)
  • 1,000,000 bit/s rate = 1 Mbit/s (one megabit or one million bits per second)
  • 1,000,000,000 bit/s rate = 1 Gbit/s (one gigabit or one billion bits per second)

Binary prefixes are sometimes used for bit rates.[3][4] The International Standard (IEC 80000-13) specifies different abbreviations for binary and decimal (SI) prefixes (e.g. 1 KiB/s = 1024 B/s = 8192 bit/s, and 1 MiB/s = 1024 KiB/s).

Key Terms

bit
bit rate
bitrate
bits per second
computing
gbit
kbit
kib
mbit
telecommunications

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Synonymns

Bit rate
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Last modified on May 8 2019
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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