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bit error rate (BER)

In telecommunication transmission, the bit error rate (BER) is the percentage of bits that have errors relative to the total number of bits received in a transmission, usually expressed as ten to a negative power. For example, a transmission might have a BER of 10 to the minus 6, meaning that, out of 1,000,000 bits transmitted, one bit was in error. The BER is an indication of how often a packet or other data unit has to be retransmitted because of an error. Too high a BER may indicate that a slower data rate would actually improve overall transmission time for a given amount of transmitted data since the BER might be reduced, lowering the number of packets that had to be resent.

A BERT (bit error rate test or tester) is a procedure or device that measures the BER for a given transmission.

This was last updated in September 2005
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