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that carry the calls, and the agents whoanswer them. With a voice mail or IVRsystem, the servers are ports.
Grade of Service:
The probability thatall servers will be busy when a call attemptis made. For example, on a trunk group:P.02 means that there is a 2% probabilityof getting a busy signal (being
)when you have a given amount of traf
cand a given number of trunks. In a callcentre, the same number would mean thatthere is a 2% probability of having to waitto speak to a human.
There are many traf
c formulas, appropri-ate to many different situations, but twoof them, both developed by A.K. Erlang,cover the most common business telecomrequirements.
: This is the formula to usewhen a blocked call is really blocked
for example, when somebody calls yourphone number and gets a busy signal ortries to access a tie trunk and
nds it inuse. It is built around three variables: Serv-ers, Traf
c, and Grade of Service. If youknow any two of those, the formula willcalculate the third one.
: Use this formula when ablocked call is delayed
for example,when someone calls your call centre andmust wait for an agent to take the call.It uses the same three variables, plus theaverage length of each call, to calculate theprobability of being delayed and how longthe delay is likely to be.These formulas only work if you havea large number of independent sourcesof traf
c. For example, 10 people makingoutgoing calls, with no incoming calls,will never need more than 10 trunks, nomatter what the formula says! A math-ematician will tell you that these formulasrequire
but in practicethey work very well if there are at least 10times as many possible sources (callers)as servers (trunks or agents).
Erlang B: The Easy One
The most common traf
c engineeringproblem involves sizing a trunk group
how many trunks are needed to carryyour toll-free calls, how many tie trunksbetween two of
ces, how many ports intoyour voice mail system, or some similarquestion. Erlang B handles that relativelyeasily, in four steps:1.
Collect trafﬁc data
. You need toknow how much traf
c will try to use thetrunk group, each hour, for
ve or 10 busi-ness days. You may be able to use phonebills, call detail reports, carrier traf
c stud-ies, or even manual counts
or you mayjust have to make educated guesses. Theobjective is to produce an hour-by-hourspreadsheet, showing the number of min-utes of traf
c in each hour. Divide thosenumbers by 60 to get erlangs per hour.Bear in mind that the traf
c on yourtrunks may be greater than actual conver-sation time
you must allow for dialingtime on outgoing calls, and for ringingtime on incoming calls, for example.2.
Determine the Average Busy Hour
.Select the busiest hour of each businessday, total the traf
c, then divide by thenumber of days.
Software has replaced the thick books of tables that used to be basic equipment foranyone involved in optimizing telephonenetworks. The following are some usefulresources.
has not testedall of these products, and does not endorseany of them. All prices are in U.S. dollars.
Erlang Calculator 1.0
: An Erlang B program for Palmcomputers. This simple freeware program displays threeblanks: Fail Rate (Blockage), Traffic, and Lines. You fill in twoand it calculates the third. Available from various sources,including
: A UK company that develops and sellstraffic calculation software, ranging from
Erlang for Excel
($80) tocomplex network and call centre modeling tools. Their websitefeatures the best on-line traffic calculators we’ve seen, including Erlang B, Erlang C, and call centre staffing. They also have an easyweb address:
($595) was the first program to add traffic formulas to Excel, and remains one of thebest. HTL focuses on call centre planning tools, using Hills A, aproprietary extension of Erlang C.
: A Swedish firm that sells software for call centremanagement and optimization. Their website includes a rathercomplex Java-based
Call Center Wizard
for calculating trunk andstaffing requirements.
: Another source forPC traffic software, this one in Australia.Their
program is said to include sixcommon traffic formulas. $40, with multiple-copy discounts.
program isavailable in three versions: Standard (Erlang B only, $39); Pro(Erlang B, Extended Erlang B, Erlang C, Daily Traffic, $69); Deluxe(Erlang B, Extended Erlang B, Erlang C, Daily Traffic, Spreadsheet for Erlang B Batch-Processing, Graphical Presentation of Results,$89). Free trial versions are available.
: Don’t be dismayed when you find that the homepage is in Dutch. Just click on
Online Call Center Assistant
forErlang B and Erlang C calculators and a 24-hour call centrescheduling program.
: Interested in the math behind Erlang’s formulas?There’s a tutorial, including some simple on-line calculators, at
Basic on-line calculators
. When you need quick answers,these non-commercial sites can be useful. Most use few graphicsand download quickly, a major advantage.
Finding Erlang On-line