baud rate

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A number related to the speed of data transmission in a system. The rate indicates the number of electrical oscillations per second that occurs within a data transmission. The higher the baud rate, the more bits per second that are transferred.

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What is a baud rate?

Baud rate is a number that measures the speed of data transmission. It is equal to the number of data pulse changes per second.

When we say “data transmission,” we mean the sending of data from one spot to another. For example, this could be a radio station sending out music to listeners or your internet provider sending data to your computer through cables.

To put it simply, data is transmitted in the form of pulses, electromagnetic waves, or similar formless signals. The baud rate is the number of changes in those signals per second. For example, a baud rate of 9,600 would mean there are 9,600 signal changes per second. These changes can take the form of oscillations of a wave or changes in voltage. The unit of baud rate is signal changes per second, or baud.

Each signal change carries a tiny packet of data called a bit. In computer science, a bit is equal to a 1 or a 0. When the data pulse reaches an electronic device, the device changes the pulses into 1s and 0s that it can use to produce useful data. For example, your computer can turn 1s and 0s into funny cat memes.

Baud rate may be confused with another measurement of speed known as bit rate. Instead of measuring the pulse change, bit rate measures the number of bits being sent. Because each signal change will likely contain more than one bit, the bit rate would be higher than the baud rate. For example, a data transmission may be made of pulses whose changes can hold 3 bits. If the baud rate of this transmission is 1,500 baud, the bit rate would be 4,500 bits per second (3 x 1,500). In modern technology, only very slow data transmissions have an equal baud rate and bit rate.

Why is baud rate important?

The first records of baud rate come from around 1968. The first records of baud come from around 1925. The unit is named after French inventor J. M. E. Baudot, who developed a more efficient code system for telegraphs.

As is also often the case with bit rate, baud rate may not accurately represent receiving speed. This is because transmission speed can change drastically depending on the receiver’s situation and equipment. For example, an internet customer using a modem made yesterday will have a much better data transmission speed than a customer using a modem that is 10 years old. At the same time, a home with three computers will have slower transmission speeds than one with only a single internet user, even if they are using the same type of modem.

Did you know … ?

You are most likely to see baud rate used on cables or short range wireless devices. In these cases, it is more likely that you will know what the baud rate of the sending device is (since you own it), so you can purchase something that will be able to transmit or receive a baud rate of that specific speed.

What are real-life examples of baud rate?

Baud rate is less commonly used than bit rate and will be most familiar to people who used early computers or are technology enthusiasts.


What other words are related to baud rate?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Baud rate is a measure of the distance that a data transmission must travel.

How to use baud rate in a sentence