International telephone traffic from fixed line and mobile phones is growing, but international Skype call traffic is soaring, according to the latest from TeleGeography. While international fixed-line and mobile phone call traffic rose an estimated 7% in 2013, to 547 billion minutes, international Skype-to-Skype traffic grew 36% in 2013, to 214 billion minutes, according to TeleGeography data.
Recent growth rates for international call traffic are significantly less than the 13% average that carriers have posted over many of the past 20 years, TeleGeography notes. Moreover, gains in traffic have largely been offset by steadily declining prices.
Though Skype volumes are low as compared to international telephone traffic, Skype’s volumes are growing far faster. Some 54 billion minutes of international traffic was logged by Skype this past year, “50% more than the combined international volume growth of every telco in the world,” TeleGeography notes. “It’s difficult not to conclude that at least some of Skype’s growth is coming at the expense of traditional carriers.”
Making Skype’s international traffic growth that much more impressive is the fact that Skype is more than holding its own as a slate of new competitors has entered the market for over-the-top (OTT) communications services.
“OTT messaging applications are among the most popular mobile apps, and several, including Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Line, Tango, Google Hangouts, and Samsung’s ChatOn, have been installed more than 100 million times from Google’s online Play app store, alone,” the market research company points out.
“The rapid spread of OTT services is making life ever more challenging for international service providers, but the PSTN will not disappear anytime soon,” TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert was quoted as saying. “No other network comes close to matching the global reach of the PSTN. While Facebook has approximately 1.2 billion monthly users, at year-end 2013 the PSTN connected to just over 8 billion fixed and mobile subscribers worldwide.”