Kilobits Per Second

What Does Kilobits Per Second Mean?

Kilobits per second (Kbps) is a specific data transfer rate. Sometimes abbreviated Kb/s, this measure signifies a data transmission rate of 1,000 bits per second. The term kilobits per second is not to be confused with a more common data rate designation of kilobytes per second (KBps).


Techopedia Explains Kilobits Per Second

The difference between kilobits and kilobytes lies in a fundamental change in data measurement that occurred early on in the development of computing technologies. A bit is a single binary unit of data, either a zero or a one. A byte is eight bits. Therefore, while a kilobit is 1,000 individual binary data units, a kilobyte is 8,000 bits.

The use of bits as a base data rate was more common in the era of limited data storage and transmission. Throughout the last few decades, both microprocessor speed and hard drive capacity have increased tremendously, so that today’s measurements are now usually based on bytes, and on larger denominations of these eight-bit units. For example, new technologies offer data storage in terabytes, and data transmission in terms like kilobytes per second.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.