Glossary definition of Bits per Second

Also known as: bps

Bits per Second (bps) is a commonly used unit of measurement in telecommunications for the rate or speed at which data is transferred. The bps indicates how many binary digits (the number of 0's and 1's) are transmitted or received in a serial form (one bit after another) each second.

In practice larger units are more convenient: one kilobit per second (kbps) is equal to 1,000 bps, one Megabit per second (Mbps) is equal to 1,000,000 bps or 1,000 kbps, one Gigabit per second (Gbps) is equal to 1,000,000,000 bps or 1,000 Mbps.

The bps is also an indication of a signal's bandwidth, and usually the higher the bps the greater is the signal bandwidth (a frequency measured in kHz or MHz).

The old measure of data speed was the Baud or baud rate, which is the number of times a digital signal changes state each second. For a given digital signal Baud rate is almost always a lower figure than bps, but Baud Rate and bps are often wrongly interchanged.