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Bit error rate

(also BER)

Bit error rate definition

Bit error rate (BER) is a way to measure how often errors happen during digital communication or data transmission. When data is sent from one place to another, like from your computer to a website, it's broken down into tiny pieces called bits. These bits travel across cables, airwaves, or whatever medium is being used to transmit them, and sometimes they get lost or scrambled along the way.

BER is one of the main indicators of the quality and reliability of a communication link. To calculate BER, a known data pattern is sent out and then compared to the data that was received at the endpoint. Then, the bits that were changed or missing are compared against the bits that were sent out. The comparison gives a ratio or a percentage that is the bit error rate.

See also: bit rate, data transmission, data packet

Advantages of using bit error rate

  • Provides a straightforward measure of system performance.
  • Helps in the design and testing of communication equipment and error correction algorithms.
  • Allows to compare different systems and transmission conditions easily.

Disadvantages of using bit error rate

  • Doesn't give information about what causes the errors.
  • Requires a large number of bits for accurate measurement, which can be time-consuming, especially at low BERs.