Will Most International Calls Be On Skype Someday?

Skype ConferenceEdit

Skype may never completely replace public switched telephone networks (i.e, traditional phone lines).  But Skype-to-Skype calls have made stunning growth.  And that growth has accelerated in the past two years, since 2011.

Not only that, but Skype is growing faster than traditional telecommunications companies for international calls.  That means it’s not just the volume of international calls going up — it means Skype’s growth is coming at the expense of traditional phone lines.  In other words, Skype is supplanting traditional telephone lines, at least when it comes to international calls.

A new study from TeleGeography finds that Skype international calls grew 36 percent in 2013.  Per the chart below, “Skype added approximately 54 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013.”  That’s “50 percent  more than the combined international volume growth of every telco in the world,” according to TeleGeography.  Users spent a total of 214 billion minutes on international Skype-to-Skype calls in 2013.

skype-international-call-traffic-growth-2

Many — if not most — Skype calls are personal calls between family members, and the numbers in the chart don’t reflect how many are business calls.  Still, small businesses have become eager users of Skype, given the low cost.  So it’s likely that some of that growth is coming from small business users who like the price of Skype.

Skype is owned by Microsoft.  The basic version of Skype is free.  However, there is a business version available for file sharing and chatting with multiple contacts at once. But the free version allows free over-the-internet video chats between any Skype users.

The company’s Skype Collaborations Project highlights examples of how the video chat tool is allowing businesses to operate across borders. For example, Apolis, a Los Angeles-based outfitter, highlights how shoes made by a family run business in Palestine are sold by an Israeli distributor in Tel Aviv. The two companies communicate only via Skype.

Image: Skype

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Joshua Sophy - Staff Writer


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering technology and business news. He is a journalist and editor with 15 years experience in media. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Joshua also serves as President of the Board of Directors of a curling club and is editor of a regional newsletter focused on the sport of curling in the Eastern U.S.

12 Reactions

  1. Well, isn’t that the most obvious path to take? Skype calls are free as long as the other person is online. And since most of us have Internet these days and international calls are way too expensive, then this is bound to happen.

    • Hi Aira,

      Skype is pretty much a no-brainer these days, isn’t it? Small businesses have figured that out, too. We use Skype to conduct our team meetings — aside from the occasional connection issue or problem getting a microphone to work, it does the job fast and at the right price. If we need to, we can see one another, although most of the time we just use audio. Then if someone is in their jammies working, well the rest of us will never know. :)

      - Anita

      • That’s right. It applies to work as well. More and more people are working at home nowadays. This means that they don’t only conduct meetings online, they talk to their bosses online as well. This is another reason to ditch the phone and just use Skype.

  2. I’m with Aira. This makes perfect sense as internet access expands.

  3. I’m curious to see whether other alternatives, like the large number of messaging apps that seem to be everywhere nowadays, will eventually figure into these statistics too. It’s true that text messaging isn’t necessarily a substitute for face to face or at least voice interaction. But I’m certain those features are coming soon for some message apps as well.

  4. Obviously, longevity has helped Skype get a foothold over its competitors, but does anyone else think the app’s name plays a role into determining its success long term? Especially in a business environment, can you take a person or a conversation seriously if we’re meeting on a WhatsApp or Hangout? Or am I placing too much importance on the name?

    • The article title – the question it poses seems like more of statement to me than a question. Most international calls ‘will’ be on Skype someday. I can feel it in my waters :-). So can that graph you have there.

      It’s not a matter of ‘will’ but of ‘when’…’cos it’s coming – it’s on its way.

    • Hi Josh, I think there’s a lot to be said for your point. A Hangout doesn’t sound nearly as professional.

      Likewise, if you use a VOIP service that seems like a regular phone, that’s another level ABOVE Skype. For instance, my attorney-husband is happy to use Skype for internal meetings with a few trusted associates or with family/friends. But he wouldn’t dream of using it for more formal purposes, such as calls with other attorneys.

      So I guess I’d say, I agree: there are various levels of formality. Businesses will choose the level that meets their credibility needs.

      - Anita

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