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We’re Skyping at a record-setting rate—are phone carriers doomed?

Skype calls are now equivalent to one-third of global phone traffic—and it's increasing steadily. What does this mean for the phone?


Jordan Valinsky

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 15, 2013   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 12:39 am CDT

More and more people are using Skype to communicate with one another—and it’s reaching a record level.

Data released Wednesday from TeleGeography reveals that international telephone traffic in 2012 tallied 490 billion minutes—a jump of 5 percent since 2011. Migration, increased usage of mobile phones in developing countries, and reductions in international calling plan prices are the impetus for the growth.

Now, new research reveals that Skype usage now equivalent to more than one-third of international phone traffic. Of that, “cross-border Skype-to-Skype” traffic rose 44 percent, to 167 billion minutes. “This increase of nearly 51 billion minutes is more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world, combined,” the firm said. 

Despite three-fourths of the population using traditional telephone companies, it’s not increasing at a “stunning pace” like Skype and other VoIP services are. “The pressure on carriers will continue to mount in the coming years,” the firm said.

Competitors to telcos aren’t limited to Skype either. The mobile marketplace is flooded with  companies like Whatsapp, Google Voice, and even Facebook, all looking to snap-up the lucrative sector. 

However, a TeleGeography analyst told Ars Technica that Skype’s domination continues to impress them for no longer being a start-up. 

“We would expect that the growth rate would be tailing off over time. The very high sustained growth rate is pretty remarkable,” said analyst Stephan Beckert. 

Photo via Reg Natarajan / Flickr

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*First Published: Feb 15, 2013, 2:16 pm CST