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International long-distance slumps, while Skype soars

12 Jun 2011

New data from TeleGeography shows that growth in international call traffic has slumped while international traffic routed via Skype continues to accelerate. International phone traffic grew an estimated 4% in 2010, to 413 billion minutes, down from 5% growth in 2009, and a far cry from the 15% average growth rate achieved during the previous two decades.

Where did the growth go? One factor contributing to the slowdown is the deep recession of 2007-2009, which affected business demand for international communications and many consumers’ ability to pay for international telephone calls. Economic conditions are reflected in sharply reduced calling card volumes, and in a drop in traffic from the US to Central America.

Internet-based voice services, like Skype, account for another, longer-term challenge to international carriers. Cross-border traffic routed by Skype, by far the largest provider of Internet-based voice communications, is projected to grow by an astonishing 45 billion minutes in 2010 — more than twice the volume added by all of the world’s phone companies, combined.

‘Demand for international communications remains strong,’ notes TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert. ‘But ever more people are discovering that they can communicate without the services of a telco.’

TeleGeography has published its namesake annual report continually since 1989, providing the most comprehensive source of data and analysis of the international long-distance market. Contents include:

•International voice traffic by route for 88 countries and more than 1,500 routes

•Retail and wholesale price and revenue trends

•Rankings of the largest and fastest-growing countries by inbound and outbound traffic volume

•Impact of mobile, Skype and consumer VoIP services on international long-distance.

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