Time of Day traffic and the Patterns of Life by Colin Duffy

This is a Time of Day telephony traffic graph – I’ve been looking at them for most of my working life. For a normal business day they pretty much always look like this:


This is how business people use telephones on a normal working day.

They generally get into the office and start making calls at about 9am, work steadily up to about midday, then have a spot of lunch. They come back at 2pm and start calling again, then everything starts tailing off about 4pm as people start thinking of home – or beer, or both.

Telephone exchanges have to be built to cope with the traffic at the busiest hour of the day so since the very earliest days of telecommunications telephone companies have been trying to reduce the height of those peaks and spread the load more evenly.

A call at a peaks adds a cost but a call either side of a peak adds a profit.

As you can see, the network is doing practically nothing after 6pm which was the reason for the cheap tariffs after 6pm – to try to encourage calling after the afternoon busy hour.

But that graph has looked the same for generations; nothing changes it – except holidays and weekends.

This is a Saturday to the same scale:

A few people work Saturday morning, they don’t really bother about a break for lunch and it’s pretty much all over by 4pm.

It seems that most business people still honour the Lord’s day. Sunday:

Funny things happen just before Bank Holidays. This is Christmas Eve:


It’s a normal working day but has about half the busy peak of a normal working day. But let’s face it, those that do come into the office go missing at lunch time.

Christmas Day itself is a disaster:


And Boxing Day is pretty much the same (still a bank holiday, of course):

Monday 30th December is supposed to be a normal working day – except it isn’t.

 The green line is a normal Monday morning – in fact it’s the trace of the Monday before. The red is what actually happened.

Looks like half of businesses didn’t bother doesn’t it?


New Year’s Day

Back to work on Thursday?  Well yes except not for everyone and notice what happens to the afternoon again – from about 12, people are sloping off early again; had enough.

All things being equal there’s about 15% less traffic in December than November.


But the good news for business telcos is that January bounces right back. Everyone’s back at work, lots of good intentions and Christmas debts to pay off, no more holidays – telephony traffic is usually around 30% up on December.

Telephony – all human life is here.

Colin Duffy is Voipfone’s CEO and a telco industry veteran.

www.voipfone.co.uk

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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7 Comments

  1. V interesting thanks Colin though I’m not sure about the “all human life is here” bit. I guess it is a window on everyone’s communications/telephony behavioural patterns. Would be quite interesting to superimpose other forms of communications traffic patterns on top – eg tweets/Facebook IMs etc

  2. I have a very similar set of Graphs here for our traffic, though I’m not at liberty to publish.

    Speaking of superimposing, I am looking at call volumes as a simple network traffic graph, although not all of our traffic is VoIP a good representative sample is, enough that looking at Internet traffic alone shows the same trends and patterns that Colin has found.

    Though I expect VoIPfone are mostly VoIP too!

  3. Good stuff Colin!. Well done on avoiding the use of the word “Erlang”.

    Rumour has it that the first day back after the summer school holidays between 10am and noon causes engineers to fret the most – would love to see an analysis showing the impact of term time etc on networks! May well have to write a post on the Network Tariff Gradient and explain how all this turns into a peak rate versus off peak and weekend….. depending on how much I want to bore everyone rigid!

  4. Good stuff Colin, this was the same in the early days of the internet and why PIPEX Dial made so much sense to PIPEX as the consumer traffic complemented the day time traffic of the business internet user.

  5. Hence the key selling point of VoIP for businesses of course.

    If I could do away with my landlines at home (and the associated line rental) and just have a PoE feed for a VoIP phone (so if the power went I could call and find out when it might be back on) and 100 Meg internet all for 30 quid plus any call charges I’d have it.

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