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As the mobile application landscape expands, wireless networks are tasked with supporting different connection profiles, including real-time traffic and delay-sensitive communications. Among many ensuing engineering challenges is the need to better understand the fundamental limits of forward error correction in non-asymptotic regimes. This article seeks to characterize the performance of block codes over finite-state channels with memory. In particular, classical results from information theory are revisited in the context of channels with rare transitions, and bounds on the probabilities of decoding failure are derived for random codes. This creates an analysis framework where channel dependencies within and across codewords are preserved. Such results can subsequently be integrated into a queueing problem formulation. Overall, this study offers new insights about the potential impact of channel correlation on the performance of delay-aware, point-to-point communication links.