Bits per second

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The number of bits transmitted on a communication channel in a single second. The common acronym is bps.

Other variations include:

  • kilobits per second (kbps): thousands of bits per second
  • megabits per second (Mbps): millions of bits per second
  • gigabits per second (Gbps): billions of bits per second
  • terabits per second (Tbps): trillions of bits per second

It should be noted that the prefixes kilo, mega, giga, and tera, in this context literally mean thousand, million, billion, and trillion respectively. For measures of storage, a kilobyte is actually 1,024 bytes of storage because storage is based on powers of two.

There are a few transmission systems that measure transmission rates in terms of 8-bit bytes per second rather than bits. To indicate this, the B is capitalized in the acronym. So Mbps is megabits per second and MBps is megabytes per second.