Digital Communication – Bandwidth, Information Transfer Rate, Baud Rate

Bandwidth

(1) A range within a band of frequencies or wavelengths.

(2) The amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. For digital devices, the bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second(bps) or bytes per second. For analog devices, the bandwidth is expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz).

The bandwidth is particularly important for I/O devices. For example, a fast disk drive can be hampered by a bus with a low bandwidth. This is the main reason that new buses, such as AGP, have been developed for the PC.

Information Transfer Rate

In telecommunications, information transfer is the process of moving messages containing user information from a source to a sink.

Baud Rate

The baud rate of a data communications system is the number of symbols per second transferred. A symbol may have more than two states, so it may represent more than one binary bit (a binary bit always represents exactly two states). Therefore the baud rate may not equal the bit rate, especially in the case of recent modems, which can have (for example) up to nine bits per symbol.

For example, a Bell 212A modem uses Phase Shift Keying (PSK) modulation, and each symbol has one of four phase shifts (of 0(deg), 90(deg), 180(deg), or 270(deg)). Since it requires two bits to represent four states (00, 01, 10, and 11), the modem transmits 1,200 bits/s of information, using a symbol rate of 600 baud.

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