International voice traffic continues to rise – despite the availability of an ever-broader range of substitutes for standard telephone calls.

Cross-border telephone traffic grew 14 per cent in 2007 and is estimated to have grown 12 per cent in 2008, to 384 billion minutes, according to data from TeleGeography.

Due to declining call prices, however, revenues have largely been flat.

But if international telephone traffic is increasing at a modest pace, Skype’s international traffic has soared.

TeleGeography estimates that Skype’s cross-border traffic grew approximately 41 per cent in 2008, to 33 billion minutes.

This is equivalent to 8 per cent of combined international telephone plus Skype traffic.

TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert said Skype’s traffic growth has been remarkable.

"Only five years after its launch, Skype has emerged as the largest provider of cross-border voice communications in the world," he said.

Not all of Skype’s traffic is a net loss for international carriers.

Skype’s paid-for ‘Skype Out’ service, which lets users make calls to standard telephones, generated 8.4 billion minutes of calls in 2008.

Skype relies on wholesale carriers, such as iBasis and Level 3, to connect this traffic to the telephone network.

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