Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Overseas calls on Skype grow 41%

Global use of the internet-based telephone service for international calls grew by 41% per cent last year, making it the world's largest provider of cross-border phone calls.

Global use of the internet-based telephone service Skype for international calls grew by 41 per cent last year, making the company the world's largest provider of cross-border phone calls. Skype, whose website is blocked by the UAE telecommunications regulator, accounts for almost one in every 10 minutes of international calling, according to figures released yesterday by the research firm Telegeography.

"We've been tracking Skype since they started and their volumes have been growing rapidly over the years," said Stephan Beckert, the director of research at Telegeography. "Last year, the growth was really strong, particularly in the last quarter." Several recent research reports have suggested that telecoms providers would experience growing demand despite poor economic conditions, as people replaced more expensive forms of entertainment with web browsing, text messaging and phone calls.

But Mr Beckert was reluctant to link the growing use of the low-cost Skype service with a slowing world economy. "One quarter doesn't make a trend, but time will tell." Telegeography counts most major international telecoms companies, including Skype, among its customers. In a report released yesterday, it said total international calling grew by 12 per cent last year from 2007, reaching a total of 384 billion minutes. Skype was responsible for 8 per cent, or 33 billion minutes, of the total.

Internet telephone services such as Skype require a UAE telecoms licence to be able to offer their services legally in the country, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Only Etisalat and du have such a licence, but the TRA has said in the past that it was working on regulatory changes that would eventually make more licences available. In developed markets where Skype had proved popular, Mr Beckert said there was an increasing trend among traditional telecoms operators towards offering smarter voice-calling services that were integrated with the internet.

"It has opened a lot of people's eyes to what can be done with voice services," he said. "The idea that you can have higher-quality voice calls over broadband than a landline, that you can add video or instant messaging to the mix, this has really led to some interesting new services." Due to deregulation and globalisation, the volume of international calls has increased more than tenfold since Telegeography began its reporting in 1988. In the same period, the average cost of international calling went down by more than 80 per cent, the report said. But traffic has grown fast enough to offset the shrinking prices, meaning total industry revenues continue to rise.

The rapid uptake of mobile phones has also changed the way network operators look at voice calling, both domestically and internationally. The Telegeography report said mobile phones would overtake landlines this year as the most common means of receiving international calls. In the UAE, both Etisalat and du have cut call costs and introduced special international calling plans in the past year. "International voice [calling] is developing into something of a 'loss leader'," the report said. "A growing number of service providers are offering flat-rate or heavily discounted international calling services in order to draw subscribers to their bundled fixed-line or mobile-phone service."

tgara@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Miele coffee maker making Cappuccino at Miele Gallery in Sama Tower in Dubai. The cost of this coffee maker is around Dh 17,000. Pawan Singh / The National

Space-age coffee comes at a price from Miele

Miele have taken the coffee machine to a new level with its Dh17,000 offering that is built into your kitchen.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 The rush of new supply of hotel rooms pushed Dubai occupancy rates down to 87 per cent. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai hotel room rates rise 10 per cent

The rush of new supply pushed occupancy rates down to 87 per cent, a dip of 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Winter months are the strongest for Dubai hotels, with occupancy and prices falling to half their peaks by July.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National