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Skype scoops up international voice traffic

VoIP service leaves traditional international voice call carriers for dust.

Telecoms research firm TeleGeography's annual state of the market report has shown that voice over IP (VoIP) technology has become the method of choice for making international voice calls.

In 2011, total international voice traffic grew 9 per cent. However, when broken down by type of technology, traditional phone-based traffic grew 3 per cent, to 317 billion minutes, while VoIP traffic grew 25 per cent, to 150 billion minutes.

This trend towards cloud-based communication was even starker in 2012, with TeleGeography estimating global traffic grew 5 per cent to 490 billion minutes, 34 per cent of which were transported as VoIP.

"While market demand for cross-border communications has not declined, hundreds of millions of consumers have discovered that they can communicate without the service of a telco," said TeleGeography.

"The share of international traffic routed via computer-to-computer VoIP services has skyrocketed. Cross-border traffic route via Skype, by far the largest provider of over-the-top' (OTT) communications service, is projected to grow by an astonishing 51 billion minutes in 2012," it added.

TeleGeography also said, while Skype is "long past its start-up phase, its traffic growth remains astonishing", estimating its international traffic to have grown by 44 per cent (51 billion minutes) in 2012.  This is more than twice the volume growth achieved by all the phone companies in the world combined.

The organisation said: "Not all of Skype's traffic represents a loss for telcos. Over 40 per cent of Skype's traffic is now video, and it is likely that a meaningful share of this is new' traffic, rather than a direct replacement for a telephone call.

"However, given their enormous traffic volume, it is difficult not to conclude that at least some of Skype's growth is coming at the expense of traditional carriers. If all of Skype's on-net traffic had been routed via traditional telcos, global cross-border telephone traffic would have increased 14 per cent in 2011 and 13 per cent in 2012 in line with growth rates of a decade ago."

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