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.
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.