Networks of Workstations (NOW) have become an attractive alternative platform for high performance computing. Due to the commodity nature of workstations and interconnects and due to the multiplicity of vendors and platforms, the NOW environments are being gradually redefined as Heterogeneous Networks of Workstations (HNOW). Having an accurate model for the communication in HNOW systems is crucial for design and evaluation of efficient communication layers for such systems. In this paper we present a model for point-to-point communication in HNOW systems and show how it can be used for characterizing the performance of different collective communication operations. In particular, we show how the performance of broadcast, scatter, and gather operations can be modeled and analyzed. We also verify the accuracy of our proposed model by using an experimental HNOW testbed. Furthermore, it is shown how this model can be used for comparing the performance of different collective communication algorithms. We also show how the effect of heterogeneity on the performance of collective communication operations can be predicted.