Bandwidth

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Bandwidth has several related meanings:

  • Bandwidth (signal processing) or analog bandwidth, frequency bandwidth or radio bandwidth: a measure of the width of a range of frequencies, measured in hertz
  • Bandwidth (computing), the rate of data transfer, bit rate or throughput, measured in bits per second (bit/s)
  • Spectral linewidth: the width of an atomic or molecular spectral line, measured in hertz

Bandwidth can also refer to:

1) In computer networks, bandwidth is often used as a synonym for data transfer rate - the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually a second). This kind of bandwidth is usually expressed in bits (of data) per second (bit/s). Occasionally, it's expressed as bytes per second (B/s). A modem that works at 57,600 bit/s has twice the bandwidth of a modem that works at 28,800 bit/s. In general, a link with a high bandwidth is one that may be able to carry enough information to sustain the succession of images in a video presentation.

It should be remembered that a real communications path usually consists of a succession of links, each with its own bandwidth. If one of these is much slower than the rest, it is said to be a bandwidth bottleneck.

2) In electronic communication, bandwidth is the width of the range (or band) of frequencies that an electronic signal uses on a given transmission medium. In this usage, bandwidth is expressed in terms of the difference between the highest-frequency signal component and the lowest-frequency signal component. Since the frequency of a signal is measured in hertz (the number of cycles of change per second), a given bandwidth is the difference in hertz between the highest frequency the signal uses and the lowest frequency it uses. A typical voice signal has a bandwidth of approximately three kilohertz (3 kHz); an analog television (TV) broadcast video signal has a bandwidth of six megahertz (6 MHz) -- some 2,000 times as wide as the voice signal.