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Skype International Call Growth ‘Threatens Telcos’

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Skype-to-Skype international call traffic grows by 44 percent in 2012

International Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic grew by 44 percent to 167 billion minutes during 2012, an increase of nearly 51 billion minutes – more than twice the growth of all International carriers in the world combined.

By contrast, international telephone traffic grew by just five percent to 490 billion minutes, according to data from telecom market research firm TeleGeography. This continued demand has been attributed to international migration, increased adoption of mobile phones and reductions in international call costs.

However, international carriers have been accustomed to average growth rates of around 13 percent in recent years, rates which have allowed them to offset the decreasing amount they are able to charge for international calls.

Skype International call growth

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TeleGeography said if Skype traffic was added to the equation, then growth in international voice traffic would have hit 13 percent, suggesting that although demand for international calls has not declined, many are switching from traditional services to VoIP offerings like Skype, which can offer cheaper rates or even free calls.

This trend has been accelerated by the widespread adoption of smartphones and increased demand for applications like WhatsApp.

The research firm added that although some forms of traffic such as video calls might be ‘new’ traffic which has not been stolen, the sheer volume of traffic means “it’s difficult not to conclude that at least some of Skype’s growth is coming at the expense of traditional carriers.”

“The pressure on carriers will continue to mount in the coming years,” said TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert. “While Skype is the best-known voice application, it’s far from the only challenger to the PSTN and, perhaps most ominously for telcos, Facebook recently added a free voice calling feature to its Messenger application.”

A report last year claimed the increased use of social messaging applications cost mobile operators $13.9 billion (£8.8bn) in lost SMS revenues in 2011.

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