Telecommunication capacity of 20%?? Is this correct??? Marie??? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

During the y2k broadcast on Bloomberg TV on Saturday, one of the guest stated that the current capacity of the telecommunications industry is 20% maximum. In other words, they can only handle 20% of all phones calls from all phone lines at one time. Is this a correct statement? Does anyone know the answer to this??? The ramifications are profound come the end of the year. Marie do you know this one???

-- y2k dave (, September 27, 1999


I cant' speak with authority, but I would guess 20/25% would be about right. Try getting on a gameshow phone line when it is advertised live on TV ....

-- Rob Somerville (, September 27, 1999.

This is not as bad as it may look. If 20 per cent of the lines are used to make a call, an additional 20 per cent of the lines would be receiving the calls. Many internet service providers assume that adequate service can be maintained with one line for each 10 subscribers. Of course if 60 per cent of the telephone subscribers are attempting to call at the same time, this is impossible without numerous busy signals.

-- Ed (Ed@aaa.bbb), September 27, 1999.

20% sounds way HIGH to me. I cannot amagine 10% of all the phones out there trying to make a call. I bet it is pretty close to the banking system fractional reserve. They can not pay-out in full just 2% of all depositors...---...

-- Les (, September 27, 1999.

However, this is simply NOT an issue.....unless millions of complete morons decide they must use their phone just to check it out....

Anyway, EVERY New Years eve many people call someone around midnight......and they will this year too.........

So was this post merely amusing trivia or is there a point to it?

-- Craig (, September 27, 1999.

From: David L

Craig, don't be calling complete morons on 1/1/00. 8^)

y2k dave,

The telecommunications network is engineered to have a very low probability of insufficient capacity during the "busy hour," which is defined according to the observed traffic at the particular network element. Measurements constantly taken of call demand and call completion are used to determine whether a network node or link requires additional capacity.

The network is not engineered to carry unusually high offered loads, such as on Mother's Day or when a TV show invites viewers to answer a survey by calling a toll free number. However, excessive loads result in controls that block enough of the traffic to allow an optimal number of calls to complete. Some types of controls will redirect traffic around bottlenecks. Most of these controls are preset, but they can be manually overridden if necessary.

So the network should handle New Year's pretty well, if the power stays up. (gulp)

-- David L (, September 27, 1999.

Just as I was scrolling through, looking to see if there was an intelligent answer to how telecommunications companies engineer systems, David. L. had the main points.

General voice traffic for residential use, for example is never engineered at 100% usage, its more like 10% of each hour. There are a lot of formulas out there used to engineer central office and PBX traffic and measure existing traffic on the system. Sales of central office capacity have soared over the last couple of years due to the rise of call centers (where it is assumed the lines and trunks are in service 100% of each hour) as well as the need for second lines in the home to support the needs of teenagers and computers. The central office division of the company I used to work for saw the demand for their products increase enormously in the last 24 months. That demand had little to do with Y2K remediation and more to do with growing demand for dialtone.

David's point about call traffic during Mother's day or during a local disaster is a good one to remember. New Years day, if everyone picks up the phone to see if its working and maybe calls a couple of relatives or friends, the network will have delays and circuit or fast busy conditions.

-- Nancy (, September 27, 1999.

Thanks to Dave and Nacy.

Craig, you need to buy a vowel and catch a clue. I have never wanted to call anybody on News Years eve ie I was to busy doing something else. Now what SPECIAL occasion will happen this year that will make millions more than usual pick up the phone and attempt to make a call. Is it Y2K???? I would also comment that the phone will be very busy(if electricity stays on) come Jan 3 with everybody calling customers service to see how their balances are doing? So there we have two very busy days for the phone companies to think about..

-- y2k dave (, September 27, 1999.

Christmas and New Year's are very heavy calling times for overseas lines, let alone regular long-distance. Always have been for obvious reasons, plus lower holiday rates apply. When I first came over here, just after the dinosaurs disappeared, you actually had to BOOK a call to the UK at holiday times. You'd sit there by the phone waiting for the overseas operator to call you and begin the process. It was often a lengthy process, sometimes unsuccessful because only a relativfe few calls could be transmitted on the undersea cable. Now that there are telecommunication satellites, things have improved and costs have gone way down--but there are many more international calls to clog things up at peak traffic times. I very often call my father early on Christmas and New Year's Eves to be sure of getting through--and even then, there are "all circuits are busy" delays. This year, I think I'll call the day before each holiday and I hope regular overseas/long distance callers will recognize potential problems and do the same.

-- Old Git (, September 27, 1999.

Why wait? I am making the assumption that many communications systems are running on UTC (formerly GMT). Therefore, I will do any tests (e.g., calling folks) shortly after UTC rollover (2:00 pm HST). This would also avoid jamming up the phone lines at midnight local time.

-- Mad Monk (, September 27, 1999.

Telecom capacity is based on a probalistic formula(s) entitled Erlang B and C. Do a search on the above term and you will find a page that has a tool allowing one to determine the number of lines necessary to provide a certain grade of service (GOS).

-- w holst (, September 28, 1999.

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