Users wanting to call home from abroad are increasingly turning to Skype’s Internet telephony service to the detriment of international carriers, new data showed.

 

“Skype is now the largest provider of cross-border communications in the world, by far,” said Stephan Beckert, analyst at research firm TeleGeography yesterday.

 

Skype’s technology allows consumers to make practically free long-distance calls over the Internet on fixed lines. It is mostly used on desktops but Skype has made the move into mobile too and it now comes pre-installed on some cell phones.

 

According to the firm’s data, over the past 25 years, international call volume from telephones has grown at a compounded annual rate of 15 percent.

 

In the past two years, however, this growth has slowed to only 8 percent, rising from 376 billion minutes in 2008 to an estimated 406 billion minutes last year.

By comparison, Skype’s on-Net international traffic between two Skype users grew 51 percent in 2008, and is projected to grow 63 percent in 2009, to 54 billion minutes.

In general, TeleGeography said, “demand for international voice has been remarkably robust, but it’s clearly not recession-proof.”