The FCC recently released a report on Universal Service which also included statistics on minutes of use (MOUs) for switched access across the PSTN. The data revealed that MOUs on the PSTN are down considerably to about 200 billion in 2011, from a peak of about 550 billion to 600 billion in 2000. That’s a pretty considerable drop. So where are all those minutes going?
We don’t know where all of them are going, but we do know where some are ending up. Skype revealed yesterday that they now serve 2 billion minutes across their network every day. Skype is the peer-to-peer VoIP provider, who is a pioneer in IP communications. All of those minutes are not just VoIP phone calls. Skype does a considerable amount of video chat calling and instant messaging, among other services. They did not offer a breakdown of those 2 billion minutes.
Safe to say though, Skype and other services like them have had a dramatic impact on switched access, especially for international calling. Skype is now a division of Microsoft, and I expect their influence and impact to grow as a result. Microsoft is busily integrating Skype into their mobile phone, unified communication, and Windows desktop platforms.
“Skype has been growing in its number of minutes at double digit rate for a steady time,” a Skype spokesperson told the social media focused publication Mashable. “The number of mobile users continues to grow at a very strong rate too, not just from the desktop but other devices, as well.”
Skype is one of the original OTT communications providers. They ride the pipes of broadband carriers into homes and businesses and offer what many end users view as a compelling communications experience. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that many of their services are free. Skype may be one of the best examples of the communications new world order, where OTT services and apps empower consumers to make choices for their communications needs, forcing traditional telecom carriers to adapt to a new reality.