It's Time for Skype to Spring for Its Own Infrastructure

Tom Keating reports that the owners of Skype Wi-Fi phones and other standalone devices have been experiencing excruciating network problems, and points to the vitriol flowing freely on the Skype forums.

[qi:___wifi] This raises the question: Why are these outages happening? And should Skype (EBAY) start to build its own network of super peers? After all, their big plan is to drive Skype’s non-PC usage, as indicated by their recent expansion into the mobile market. They have also been aggressively pushing the Skype brand, making money by licensing it to hardware makers who build devices like Wi-Fi phones and then sell them at mass-market retailers such as Wal-Mart.

Skype benefits from the increased footprint that comes from expanding into the non-geek markets. The problem is that many of these new buyers are using Skype over Wi-Fi and don’t contribute as much to the overall P2P network placing an extra load on some and letting others leech off the platform.

I think it is time for Skype to start buildinga network of company-owned supernodes to take the load off the consumer network. They have in the past built infrastructure to support expansion into the PSTN-connect business. However, the reason the company resisted expansion into the mobile domain was purely because it didn’t want to build its own supernode infrastructure, instead choosing to partner with startups like iSkoot.

Of course, such infrastructure comes with big bills, and one can understand Skype’s reticence. Some, like our good friend Aswath Rao suggested that the whole Skype economic model will break down if that it wouldn’t cost the company that much to build dedicated supernodes, but it would take away some of the P2P cachet. And while that might be, I think that when you pay for a device, you expect a higher quality of service, unlike us PC-people who settle for poor quality because it doesn’t cost us anything.

Maybe it is time for Skype to pony up!

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