Skype Still Down for Millions


By: Peter Pachal

Skype users worldwide continue to be affected by a massive outage that hit yesterday afternoon and has crippled to voice and video calling service. In a update today, the company said it had identified the problem and was slowly returning to normal.

This morning Skype said on its Web sitethat 10 million of its users were now able to log in and use the service. That’s less than half its usual load of about 24 million people, according to figures a Skype spokesman gave PCMag. Skype boasts 124 million “active” users, defined as registered users who have signed in in the last 30 days, but only a fraction of those are logged in at any one time. As of this morning, PCMag wasn’t able to make calls on the service.

Skype’s enterprise application, Skype Connect, is still functional, the company said.

Unlike other kinds of networks, Skype is peer-to-peer (P2P), meaning it’s heavily reliant on its users to create the network and connect calls, with each user acting as a node. Some users — those that meet certain performance specifications and aren’t behind a firewall — are designated “supernodes,” which act like phone directories for other users. Yesterday several supernodes failed virtually simultaneously, resulting in the outage.

What caused the supernode failure is unknown, though the Skype update said its engineers have now identified the problem. Yesterday the company said it was in the process of creating some “mega-supernodes” to help restore the network.

The outage comes right before the holidays, when the service becomes popular with connecting families. While video chatting typically makes up about 40 percent of Skype usage on any given day, during the holidays that figure jumps to 50 percent, a Skype representative said. Skype recently rolled out group video calling, which allows multiple users to participate in the same chat.

Skype hasn’t disclosed whether increased video-chatting activity had anything to do with the outage. We’ve contacted the company for more details.