LONDON Eight percent of international call traffic in 2008 used Internet calling company Skype, an increase of 41 percent on a year earlier, according to data from communications research firm TeleGeography released on Tuesday.
"Only five years after its launch Skype has emerged as the largest provider of cross-border voice communications in the world," TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert said. Skype is owned by eBay.
TeleGeography estimates that 384 billion minutes' worth of international calls were made in 2008, up 12 percent on the year before, but revenues were flat due to falling call prices.
Skype, traditionally seen as an enemy by telecoms carriers who fear further revenue losses through calls made via the Internet, has recently been forging partnerships with the likes of Hutchison Whampoa's 3 in Britain.
Mobile carriers in particular have little to lose through consumers using Skype for international calls, as few non-business cross-border calls are made from mobiles. 3 says it has seen an increase in traffic since launching a Skype phone.
Skype's paid "Skype Out" service, which lets users make calls to standard telephones, from which telecoms carriers earn money, generated 8.4 billion minutes of calls in 2008 -- about one quarter of all international Skype calls.
Skype has until now mainly targeted consumers but it announced a beta version aimed at business users on Monday.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)