Popular voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service Skype says that the worst is behind them and that the service has been stabilized. The voice and video chat system was down for most of its users over the past day, experiencing its greatest outage since 2007, when it went offline for nearly two days.
The company now says that the service is stabilized and running at roughly 90% of normal user volumes and it will give out free minutes to pay users and subscribers to make up for the downtime.
We first noticed the issue yesterday at around 8 a.m. PST when nearly 22 million people were using the service. By 9 a.m., that number had dropped to 12.5 million and it continued to plummet as the day went on. At the end of the day, Skype was unavailable to most all of its nearly 600 million users and it didn't start coming back until early this morning.
Skype hasn't offered a full explanation for what caused the outage, except to say that many of its "supernodes" went offline at the same time. When we first noticed the issue, however, a majority of complaints on Twitter seemed to allude to a software update that was causing the client to repeatedly crash. A similar problem caused the two-day-long outage in 2007.
Now, Skype CEO Tony Bates says that the company has "been able to successfully stabilize Skype due to the dedicated supernodes deployed by Skype's engineering team." The company also said it wants to make it up to its users:
Nothing can make up for the missed experiences, but we're going to be sending our Pay As You Go and Pre-Pay users a Skype Credit voucher via email. The voucher can be used to give you approximately 30 minutes of free calling to landlines anywhere in the world.*
For our active subscribers, we will credit you with a week's extra subscription service. It may take a few days, but once implemented, it will be applied from your next renewal date.
While this might be enough for some users, we have to wonder what an outage of this scale has done to users' trust in the service. As some complained that the outage affected their business operations, others chided them for using a free VoIP service for conducting business. Will this be a lesson and cause those users to move on or is the price right? Even those that pay for Skype enjoy a drastically reduced cost compared to other services. Will 30 minutes of free calling win you back, or will you move on from Skype?