December 25, 2010

Skype Offering Customer Refund For Outage

Skype said that it will offer refunds to paying customers who have not been able to use its service due to an outage that lasted for over 30 hours.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Bates said in a blog post that about 20 million users of the service, which is 90 percent of the service's traffic, were affected.

Bates said in an interview with Bloomberg that year-end holidays are Skype's heaviest traffic period.  The disruption adds to challenges Skype is facing as it tries to persuade companies to pay for calling and establish premium services, like group video conversations.

"We now know what caused a number of clients to actually crash," Bates said in a video on the company's blog. "We've been able to mitigate that crash risk and isolate that."

He didn't say what the cause of the crash was, but did say that they have ruled out a malicious attack.

Skype said it will give pre-pay and pay-as-you-go users 30 minutes of free calling, and active subscribers will be given a week's extra subscription.

According to a regulatory filing, Skype has over 560 million users, and of those only 1.4 percent pay for the service. 

Skype said that audio and video calls as well as instant-messaging capabilities are now working, but some features like group video calling are still unavailable.

Skype said it will do a full post-mortem of the cause of the outage.  Bates said the company is using servers that normally support offline instant messaging and multiparty video calls to help it get its main products online.

According to the Washington-based research firm Telegeography, Skype accounts for about 12 percent of international calling.

EBay Inc. sold most of its stake last year for about $2 billion to a group led by Menlo Park, California-based private-equity firm Silver Lake.


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