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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
Baud is a measure of signal changes per second in a device such as a modem. It represents the number of times the state of a communication line changes per second. The name comes from the Frenchman Baudot, who developed an encoding scheme for the French telegraph system in 1877.
Baud is rarely used to refer to modem speeds because it does not have a relationship to the number of bits transferred per second on high-speed modems. If a modem transferred 1 bit for every signal change, then its bits-per-second rate and baud rate would be the same. However, encoding techniques are employed to make 1 baud, or signal change, represent 2 or more bits. Two bits per baud is known as dibit encoding and 3 bits per baud is known as tribit encoding.
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