International telephony up 5%, but long-distance providers face threats from OTT

International telephone traffic may have grown at a rate of 5 percent in 2012 to 490 billion minutes, but the increasing presence of Skype and other OTT providers poses challenges for traditional long distance providers.

A new TeleGeography report said that a number of factors, including the growing adoption of mobile phones and falling international call prices, drove an increase in international call traffic.

Infonetics Skype traffic 2012

Despite those gains, the research firm said "recent growth rates are well below the 13 percent average that carriers could count on to offset price declines over much of the past 20 years."

On the other hand, traffic generated by voice and messaging applications such as Skype continues to rise. In 2012, cross-border Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic grew 44 percent to 167 billion minutes. TeleGeography said the increase of nearly 51 billion minutes "is more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world, combined."

Skype is only one of several alternative threats that traditional service providers now face. Consumers are using a number of other web-based OTT voice and video providers, including Google (Talk and Voice), WeChat (Weixin), Viber, Nimbuzz, Line and KakaoTalk. In addition, Facebook, the popular social networking site, now offers a free voice calling feature on its Messenger application.

For more:
- here's TeleGeography's report

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