VoIP provider Skype has seen a dramatic surge in international calls in the past year to a projected 54 billion minutes, as users take advantage of the ability to make free long-distance calls over the internet.
Research by analyst firm TeleGeography found that international Skype use grew 51 per cent in 2008, and is predicted to show growth of 63 per cent in 2009 to a total of 54 billion minutes of connected calls.
Traditional international telephone traffic, meanwhile, slowed in growth to eight per cent between 2008 and 2009, from 376 billion minutes to 406 billion, almost half its usual annual growth of 15 per cent.
TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert argued that the recession has clearly had an impact on the declining demand for traditional international voice calls, and the growing popularity of Skype.
"The international voice market has been remarkably robust, but it is clearly not recession-proof, while Skype is now the largest single provider of cross-border communications in the world by far," he said.
"The growth of alternatives to telephone calls, including Skype for mobile devices and Google's gradual entry into the voice market, will present ever greater challenges to international carriers."
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