Skype is offering its subscribers refunds after its outage earlier this week. Users of certain specialized multimedia services which it offers may still be experiencing some problems at the time of writing, however, more than 90% should be receiving a full service. However, all systems were down for such a long period that many users were ‘up in arms’ complaining about the delays to their use of their service, particularly at such an important time of year for many businesses.
It is thought that Skype will give refunds in the form of free phone time of about 30 minutes.
It is suggested that the cause of the outage on was due to failing “supernodes,” which are clusters of peer-to-peer online computer connections. A problem in the Skype software apparently took some of these nodes offline. As a result user traffic to declined from more than 23 million to less than in a short period.
Skype’s service has become known by many as the best deal for calling people around the world using computers with broadband connections. Skype is very useful for families to hold video calls on their computers with relatives around the world, and not just for those wishing to keep in touch when traveling.
Skype is a proprietary Voice-over-IP program that uses its own proprietary protocol to send and receive calls. Some say that Skype’s system is not as good as it could be for everyone if it was allowing its users into to use open source protocols instead of its own proprietary software.
Skype is reported to be the best way to communicate with your family all over the world. Its users say that it is usually reliable and very efficient. Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network.
The Skype user base is reported to be growing at growth rates of 30% to 40% yeraly. That’s not bad going in an economy where elsewhere growth is flat.
Assuming that you have a broadband contract for your PC that allows you to connect to the Internet, and suitable Wi-Fi equipment installed as part of that system already, you can make free calls and with some additional software and the right mobile phone set-up calls from within your home can be free as well, including calls using your mobile phone.
The company, owned by eBay, is currently adding about 150,000 users a day to its member base of reportedly more than 500 million in as many as 225 countries.
Calls to other regions not included and outside the internet based system, through traditional phone lines, are priced individually but rarely cost more than a few cents per minute. The only disadvantages are that all quality is dependent on one’s Internet connection speed, and it does not provide an emergency calls service, but the speech quality is generally good, even with slower connections.
Skype is also available for the iPhone which is the most popular single device in today’s market.
Skype has been seeing more competition recently with Apple’s release of its FaceTime mobile video client earlier this year. There are no doubt many who would like to take some of the Skype business, in an area which it has generally dominated. The video calling space is also growing much larger and although dominated by Skype, they should expect strong competition in the years ahead.
Fring is another player in this space. They made quite the bit of news recently when they released an updated app for the iPhone that allowed video calls over 3G using the Skype protocol, as well as its own standard. The service allows calls to be placed to computers, Android phones, iPhones, and Symbian phones. Many say that Fring’s voice quality is generally poor. On the other hand there is Nimbuzz. That is another service of this type on the other hand, where quality has been described as much better, but has limitations as it doesn’t allow use of the keypad after you make a call.