International long-distance traffic growth has slowed from its recent-years rate of about 13 percent a year to just four percent in 2011, acording to TeleGeography.

International long-distance traffic grew four percent in 2011, to 438 billion minutes, TeleGeography says. None of that would seem particularly unusual. The global industry is accustomed to the idea that over the top calling will continue to grow, especially on the expensive international routes, and that shift of traffic now is being felt in slower-growing international call volumes, at least in the form of minutes of use on the global public networks.

Voice revenue and volume still is important, in a revenue sense, for nearly all service providers, to some extent. The exceptions are those firms that largely have bundled domestic “long distance” with “local,” IP telephony and VoIP providers for whom “international calling” is a small part of the overall business, and those service providers carrying very little long-distance toll traffic.

“This growth rate was less than one-third of the industry’s long-run historical average of 13 percent annual growth,” TeleGeography says. But the trend itself is something service providers have been grappling with for more than a decade.

To nobody’s surprise, Skype’s cross-border traffic has grown 48 percent in 2011, to 145 billion minutes.

TeleGeography estimates that Skype added 47 billion minutes of international traffic in 2011, more than twice as much as all the telephone companies in the world, combined. That’s no surprise: “free or low cost” will beat “high cost” nearly every time. International long distance growth rates have slowed.

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