In telecommunication and information theory, the code rate (or information rate) of a forward error correction code is the proportion of the data-stream that is useful (non-redundant). That is, if the code rate is for every k bits of useful information, the coder generates a total of n bits of data, of which are redundant.
If R is the gross bit rate or data signalling rate (inclusive of redundant error coding), the net bit rate (the useful bit rate exclusive of error correction codes) is .
For example: The code rate of a convolutional code will typically be 1⁄2, 2⁄3, 3⁄4, 5⁄6, 7⁄8, etc., corresponding to one redundant bit inserted after every single, second, third, etc., bit. The code rate of the octet oriented Reed Solomon block code denoted RS(204,188) is 188/204, meaning that 204 − 188 = 16 redundant octets (or bytes) are added to each block of 188 octets of useful information.
A few error correction codes do not have a fixed code rate—rateless erasure codes.
Note that bit/s is a more widespread unit of measurement for the information rate, implying that it is synonymous with net bit rate or useful bit rate exclusive of error-correction codes.