Now here’s an interesting piece of information. Skype has, as you may be aware of, become hugely popular and has a reported 521 million registered users. It turns out that that is enough to take a considerable chunk of change away from the traditional telephone companies, especially when it comes to those expensive international long-distance calls.
According to a new study by TeleGeography, worldwide international telephone traffic racked up 406 billion minutes of call time in 2009. Contrast this with international call traffic between Skype users (free over the Internet), which was 54 billion minutes, up from 33 billion minutes the previous year.
Now here comes the really amazing thing: If you count international calls between Skype users in with the overall international telephone calls, Skype’s share of the pie is almost 12%.
“The volume of traffic routed via Skype is tremendous,” says Stephan Beckert, a TeleGeography analyst. “Skype is now the largest provider of cross border communications in the world, by far.”
And here is another kicker: Skype’s actual share is bound to be even higher than 12%.
Why? Because the numbers above only include calls between Skype users. They don’t include SkypeOut calls, Skype’s Internet-to-telephone pay option. For example, in Q3 2009, Skype had 3.1 billion minutes of SkypeOut calls. Not all will have been international calls, but it’s not an insignificant amount of calling time (12.4 billion minutes in a year).
You could argue that Skype’s incredible growth is a sign of what many have predicted for some time now; sooner or later all calls will be made over the Internet. It’s just a matter of time.