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megabit

In data communications, a megabit is a million binary pulses, or 1,000,000 (that is, 106) pulses (or "bits"). It's commonly used for measuring the amount of data that is transferred in a second between two telecommunication points. For example, a U.S. phone company T-carrier system line is said to sustain a data rate of 1.544 megabits per second. Megabits per second is usually shortened to Mbps.

Some sources define a megabit to mean 1,048,576 (that is, 220) bits. Although the bit is a unit of the binary number system, bits in data communications are discrete signal pulses and have historically been counted using the decimal number system. For example, 28.8 kilobits per second (Kbps) is 28,800 bits per second. Because of computer architecture and memory address boundaries, bytes are always some multiple or exponent of two. See kilobyte, etc.

This was last updated in September 2005

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