Data Communication Terminologies | Data Channel, Baud, BPS, Bandwidth

This post defines some of the terms that are most typically brought up in conversations pertaining to data communication. The following is a list of the terms that will be discussed in this post:

Now, let's have a quick description of these five terms, beginning with "data channel."

Data Channel

A channel is, in its most fundamental sense, a medium through which information or data is transmitted from one location to another.

Baud

Baud is basically the unit of measurement for the information-carrying capacity of a communication channel.

The baud is synonymous with bps (which stands for bits per second), which is another unit of measuring data transfer rates.

BPS

The speed at which data transfer is measured is denoted in terms of bits per second, abbreviated to bps for short.

Bps is the standard unit of measurement for determining how quickly data travels over high-speed phone lines or modems.

It is essential to note that Bps is an abbreviation for bytes per second. Take note that it begins with a capital B. The abbreviation for "bits per second," which is written with a lowercase "b," is "bps."

The following table provides an explanation of both the bps and Bps forms of the unit:

Short Full
bps bits per second
Bps Bytes per second

Another table that describes the various forms of bps can be found here:

Rate Denoted by Full Notice
The rate of a thousand bits per second kbps kilo bits per second Small k in kbps
A rate of a thousand bytes per second Kbps Kilo bytes per second Capital K in Kbps
A rate of a million bits per second mbps mega bits per second Small m in mbps
A rate of a million bytes per second Mbps Mega bytes per second Capital M in Mbps

Bandwidth

The distance between the highest and lowest frequencies carried by a transmission channel is referred to as the bandwidth of the channel.

You can also say that bandwidth is the width of the band of frequencies that is assigned to a channel. This is another definition of bandwidth.

The amount of data that can be sent or received in a specified amount of time is directly proportional to the bandwidth available.

At any given level of system performance, one could also say that bandwidth is proportional to the amount of complexity contained within the data being transferred. For instance, the bandwidth required to download a photograph in one second is significantly higher than the bandwidth required to download a page of text in one second.

For an acceptable level of system performance, additional bandwidth is required, along with large sound files, computer programs, and animated video files.

Note that channels with a high bandwidth are referred to as "broadband channels," while channels with a low bandwidth are referred to as "narrowband channels."

Bandwidth in Digital and Analog Systems

In digital systems, bandwidth refers to the data transfer rate measured in bits per second. Consequently, a modem that operates at a speed of 57600 bps has bandwidth that is two times greater than that of a modem that operates at a speed of 28800 bps.

In analogue systems, bandwidth is defined in terms of the difference between the component of the signal's frequency that has the highest frequency and the component of the signal with the lowest frequency. The unit of measurement for frequency is the hertz, which stands for cycles per second. The bandwidth of a typical voice signal is approximately 3 kilohertz (3 kHz), while the bandwidth of an analogue television broadcast video signal is 6 megahertz (6 megahertz).

The following table provides a description of the various units that can be used to measure bandwidth:

Value Full Short Represents
A kilohertz kHz a thousand cycles per second
A megahertz MHz a thousand kHz
A gigahertz GHz a thousand MHz
A terahertz THz a thousand GHz

Data Transfer Rates

The data transfer rate is the amount of data that is moved through a communications channel or a computing or storage device in one second.

The rate of data transfer can be expressed as a measurement in baud, which stands for binary digits, bps, which stands for bits per second, or Bps, which stands for bytes per second.

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