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Skype Slowly Restores Service To Users 76

Posted by timothy
from the reset-the-counter dept.
CWmike writes "Skype continues to slowly recover after an outage caused by problems with its peer-to-peer interconnection system. The latest estimates say that 10 million users are now online, according to a blog post. Skype's outage began on Wednesday."
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Skype Slowly Restores Service To Users

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  • by Aerorae (1941752) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @07:05PM (#34655816)

    It totally classifies as epic fail.

    • by icebike (68054)

      So is having two articles about the same issue on the front page of SlashDot.

      Really, what more is there to say about this, than to have Skype fess up that their new software version seriously broke things...

      • To be fair Skype is a synonym for VOIP these days to the general public and a lot of people rely on it. I'm sure we'd get same stories if Facebook or Titter went down. As for your second comment. Oh my God do they need to apologize for the new version of Skype! I'm lucky the Linux version is basic and they don't focus too much on it.
      • Actually there were THREE articles. The third was titled, "Skype outage continues into second day," and I was about to post a comment but then the article got deleted.

        I've considered trying Skype but just never bothered. Instead I use a calling card. 5 cents a minute ($30 for 10+ hours) means it's as cheap as Skype but a lot more mobile. I can carry it in my wallet & use it any gas station or hotel or home landline. (Also cheaper than my cellphone plan at 18 cents/minute.) And the landline is only

        • by icebike (68054)

          Actually, calling cards are not "just as cheap as skype" because the overwhelmingly vast majority of skype users use it for FREE with skype-to-skype.

          Skype-to-skype calls whether computer to computer or smartphone to smartphone are free anywhere in the world.

          • Skpye-to-skype calls are either 3 cents/minute or $4/month, so I don't know how you can call that "free" unless this is some new definition I'm not aware of? Besides: I wouldn't be making those skype-to-skype calls because nobody in my family has skype (or a computer). So I'd be paying the 4 cents or whatever per minute of a Skype-to-landline phone.

            Also I cannot use Skype anywhere... like if I'm at a gas station when my tire goes flat. The Skype would be useless since my computer would not be with me,

            • by icebike (68054)

              Skype to skype is free. Zip. Nada. Anywhere in the world.

              Skype to land lines is three bucks a month. Unlimited minutes.

              Skype runs on computers as well as smart phones.
              So you can make a skype call from anywhere with your smart phone to any other skype user for free.

            • Skpye-to-skype calls are either 3 cents/minute or $4/month, so I don't know how you can call that "free" unless this is some new definition I'm not aware of?

              Sadly, your parents either failed to warn you about the brown acid... or you didn't listen

        • 5 cents a minute

          Ouch! Maybe Skype callout rates are (much) higher in the US.... you are quoting your International call rates right?

          Disclaimer: I have no association with Skype - I simply use them for my calls to land/mobile phones and free calls to other computer users. Because it's so commonly installed on all OSs - not because Skype is cheap. Compared to other VOIP solutions (yes, Skype is VOIP) Skype is not cheap.

          The outage frustrated and inconvenienced me, mostly because it's uncommon. Unlike the daily afternoon outa

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So does the advert-ridden Computerworld article linked to in TFA.
    • I took a very angry phone call from my clients CEO yesterday morning who was trying to log onto Skype for some a conference call with a few of his staff members in another state.

      After confirming that their Firewall/Proxy was under Christmas embargo, no changes requests had been processed and the ports were open I checked the Skype twitter feed and noticed the service was out.

      It still took a few attempts at explaining that it wasn't our fault and there was nothing I could do to access their network which was

  • POTS vs VOIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pinkfalcon (215531) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @07:12PM (#34655870)

    I've worked in the telecom industry and I've seen the type of testing they do on their products, and I've worked in the software industry and I've seen the type of testing they do on their products...

    It will be a long long time before I give up my hardline from ATT and rely only on VOIP as my main contact with the world. or anything more than I'm bored - let's see who I can talk to....

    A LONG time....

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by iammani (1392285)

      How long ago did you work? Currently all POTS calls *are* VOIP calls!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not Yet, There are still tons of TDM trunks and GR303 based pots lines in service and will be for a long time. But yes your point it correct that you may be using voip whether you know it or not.

      • by DragonHawk (21256) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @10:03PM (#34657056) Homepage Journal

        Currently all POTS calls *are* VOIP calls!

        Good gods, how did *that* get modded "Informative"? (Yah, yah, pretend I'm new here.)

        POTS calls, by definition, start on a line with Plain Old Telephone Service. 48 volts, analog, more or less the same thing that's been in use for roughly a century now.

        Now, once you get to the CO, you're almost certainly going to go digital. That digital channel is still commonly pure TDM and circuit-switched (especially if you don't leave the exchange). You have a 64 Kbit/sec timeslice dedicated to your call all the way. Or it may go into an ATM network ("A technology that lets telephone companies turn your WAN problems into something they can tariff") and be cell-switched. Or, yes, it may go into a packet-switched IP network. Maybe even the Internet, if you're using a cheap LD carrier.

        But "all"?? No. Not by a long shot.

        Even if your call *does* go VoIP, you may still never leave the domain of the PSTN, where things like QoS can be enforced end-to-end. The Internet's generally a "unreliable, best effort" service. Different operators do different things, and all you can do is plug in somewhere and hope for the best. A telco deploying VoIP as a backhaul internally is a very different beast.

        • by iammani (1392285)

          My point was that most calls are currently packet-switched. They even in fact share the fiber that carry general internet traffic, only with additional QoS enforcements. The last mile is still 48-volt analog system, but (almost) everything else is packet switched. And of course, as you pointed out, this does not apply, if the connection does not leave the exchange (I guess I am allowed to get away with it, as I said most :)).

          Even if your call *does* go VoIP, you may still never leave the domain of the PSTN, where things like QoS can be enforced end-to-end. The Internet's generally a "unreliable, best effort" service. Different operators do different things, and all you can do is plug in somewhere and hope for the best. A telco deploying VoIP as a backhaul internally is a very different beast.

          I guess, your point is one can rely on VOIP, but not on the Internet (at present at

          • My point was that most calls are currently packet-switched. They even in fact share the fiber that carry general internet traffic, only with additional QoS enforcements.

            Can you cite a source on the claim that most calls are currently packet-switched? While it's been some years since I've been up close to that part of the IT field, I don't think there's been enough time to physically change over that many phone switches, let alone the money or telco inclination.

            Note that just because a call is running down the same fiber as an IP feed doesn't mean the voice is packet-switched. It is (or was) much more common to find the IP feeds existing as channels within a TDM trunk. A

        • by seifried (12921)
          Telus up here went to an all IP backbone for everything some years ago (voice, fax, internet, etc.). So up here any call is a VOIP call.
          • This is only true for long distance. Telus calls -- or at last those that don't leave the exchange -- are not VoIP. I'd also be surprised to find out that local exchanges were interconnected with VoIP.

        • Currently all POTS calls *are* VOIP calls!

          Good gods, how did *that* get modded "Informative"? (Yah, yah, pretend I'm new here.)

          POTS calls, by definition, start on a line with Plain Old Telephone Service. 48 volts, analog, more or less the same thing that's been in use for roughly a century now.

          Now, once you get to the CO, you're almost certainly going to go digital. That digital channel is still commonly pure TDM and circuit-switched (especially if you don't leave the exchange). You have a 64 Kbit/sec timeslice dedicated to your call all the way. Or it may go into an ATM network ("A technology that lets telephone companies turn your WAN problems into something they can tariff") and be cell-switched. Or, yes, it may go into a packet-switched IP network. Maybe even the Internet, if you're using a cheap LD carrier.

          But "all"?? No. Not by a long shot.

          Even if your call *does* go VoIP, you may still never leave the domain of the PSTN, where things like QoS can be enforced end-to-end. The Internet's generally a "unreliable, best effort" service. Different operators do different things, and all you can do is plug in somewhere and hope for the best. A telco deploying VoIP as a backhaul internally is a very different beast.

          If you're describing the US carriers (all of them) then you may be right. I wouldn't know - never worked for them.

          In Australia - where there is only one copper carrier (Telstra) the line voltage is significantly higher, the Nortel cards do VOIP, demux is VOIP, and even within .50 cal range of the National Parliament mobile is unreliable. I have a "standard" POTS on the farm (capital city) - which is analogue measuring 92VDC (this morning), but between my place and the Civic exchange it most certainly is VOI

    • by gblackwo (1087063)
      Implying his life is so important he can't go without a telephone at home for a few days. Sadness.
      • and remote: there exists a real possibility that both his internet and cell phone service don't work during the same period he needs to call an ambulance. Some people value preparedness over trendiness.

  • Help Desk (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2010 @07:12PM (#34655872)

    Operator: Can I help you?
    Skype: YES, all of our peer-to-peer servers just went down. We have 23 million users offline right now.
    Operator: Have you tried turning it off and then turning it on again?

    • Operator: Can I help you? Skype: YES, all of our peer-to-peer servers just went down. We have 23 million users offline right now. Operator: You're holding it wrong

      There. fixed that for you.

    • Operator: Have you tried turning it off then turning it on again?
      CONTINUED

      Operator: I don't believe you.
      Skype: What?
      Operator: Nothing.
      Skype: What do you mean -
      Operator: Does the power cable have an end with only 2 prongs?
      Skype: Yes it does.
      Operator: Older Model. Sometimes the current gets all mixed up inside, can you go to the wall socket where you have it plugged in, and try unplugging it, turning it 180 degrees, and plugging it back in?
      Skype: Isn't it alternating current?
      Operator: Yes, you'll be using the

    • Operator: Can I help you?
      Skype: YES, all of our peer-to-peer servers just went down. We have 23 million users offline right now.

      Actually it's more like this:

      Skype customer service. This is Peggy.....

  • Conspiracy Theory : (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beerdood (1451859) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @07:17PM (#34655902)
    Sabotage by Comcast and AT&T. It's clear that they're scared that net neutrality bill is a big threat to business in the land line department... so the new plan is to make skype totally unreliable by sabotage. Eventually all the skype users will realize that VOIP is a bunch of crap and they'll go back to using land lines. It's so obvious!!

    /tinfoilhat
  • Just the other day I needed to call 911 and I couldn't!
    • by orange47 (1519059)
      well you should have dialed the REAL number for 911
    • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @07:24PM (#34655946)
      That's why there's Twitter: "@911, need help, was watching football game, now choking on a pretzel, my address is 1600 penn" [140 char maximum reached]
      • Any real twitter story would have the person text a friend who put it on twitter for them.
        That extra level of redirection makes it far more compelling.

        Next: The six degrees of 911 dispatchers.
        "Hello, is that Kevin Bacon? I'm choking on a pretzel!"

        • by siddesu (698447)

          That's nothing. A friend got stuck in the toilet in a lone cabin - the lock broke or something (the rest of us camped out in tents a few miles out).

          So, since she had no gadgets on her, she started crying for help out of the window. Some kids heard her, brought an old lady in some hours. The kids didn't come back, the lady couldn't help, and our friend was reluctant to be alone (it was getting late in the afternoon), so she tried to have the old lady make a call on her cell.

          There was no reception in the area

          • >>>still no idea where that wifi came from

            Wouldn't it make sense it was just standard cell service? Sometimes you can send texts or emails across intermittent connections that would not normally work for "live" voice calls.

            I got locked in a bathroom in a girl's dorm one time. Stuck my head out and asked students for help, but of course they all ignored me. Then I saw two friends who assumed I was joking, but I told them to come check the doorknob themselves and sure enough, it was broke. I had

            • by keeboo (724305)

              Another time I was in a friend's room reading a textbook, and this chick showed-up wearing nothing but a towel. I excused myself but she said, "No need to leave" and dropped the towel right in front of me.

              Let me guess... You were using a t-shirt with a C= logo when that happened..

              • That was over 15 years ago - I've no idea what I was wearing. Probably jeans and a sweater (I remember it was winter time).

    • by MalHavoc (590724)
      I know you're probably joking, but it's worth mentioning that Skype isn't a replacement for 911. They specifically say this on their site, in case people consider replacing their POTS service with Skype, completely.
      • Trusting Skype "fortunately-nobody-does-it-like-us P2P" for an emergency call? Well, at least it might get you a Darwin award... :/

        As POTS replacement, I use (and would recommend) JustVoip [justvoip.com] coupled with E911 service from SIPgate [sipgate.com] (and a tiny UPS for the ATA [voipsupply.com] and router/modem) => true emergency dialing for $2/mo.
        Plus, naturally, others calls remain way cheaper than Skype [progx.ch] given how many SIP providers there are to choose from...
    • by 3vi1 (544505)

      I've never been able to dial it, as there's no eleven on my phone.

  • They're posting about the fact that it's back up, but I never saw a story saying anything about it going down.
    • Disregard my previous post. I expected the outage on Wednesday story to have been posted on Wednesday, not this morning. My mistake.
  • Somewhere there's a junior sysadmin going "so if this script didn't push the latest build onto the test servers, where did it get pushed to?"

  • I just turned it on, and already got about 3 chain mail style messages about Skype having to purge its invalid user base, so please forward this to 15 of your friends.

    So, the Internet is the same as ever.

  • Anyone have opinions on voxox [voxox.com]?
  • I wonder, did PennyTalk, OoVoo, Line2, and Google Talk all pick up more traffic while this was down?

    • I wonder, did PennyTalk, OoVoo, Line2, and Google Talk all pick up more traffic while this was down?

      I see that Fring.com jumped on the chance to connect stranded travellers in European airports during the Skype outage with a free service credit. Brilliant market play that costs them next to nothing to execute. Even slicker, the signup gets the new users' tweeting right off the bat.

  • Can't believe no one's mentioned this yet.

    All Skype does is connect users and punch holes in NATs. Take something at least standard (like SIP), if not peer-to-peer, and you don't have massive failures just because one VOIP provider goes down.

    • by xnpu (963139)

      So? Even if Skype uses SIP, these millions of users would still have gone offline because they're Skype's SIP users.

      You're already free to use SIP services if that makes you happier and, provided both you and your Skype peer sign up for something called a "phone number" you'll be able to reach each other as well.

      • If we both use a POTS number, that kind of defeats the point of VOIP in the first place -- Skype computer-to-computer calls, for instance, are free aside from the bandwidth used.

        If we don't, there's no way to connect us. By contrast, if Skype used some sort of standard, I could actually switch to a new service and bring all my Skype contacts. In other words, people are stuck with Skype the same way they're stuck with Facebook, with the various non-Jabber Instant Messaging services, and so on -- but not the

  • You know....it takes a while to do those NSA upgrades to monitor all of the growing phone calls placed by Skype users.

    Just be patient as Homeland Security completes those upgrades.

    -Hack

  • by Phil Karn (14620) <karn@Nospam.ka9q.net> on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:24AM (#34657888) Homepage
    Last night I was running Skype on a publicly routable IP address, which probably made my machine a supernode candidate. I noticed a lot of idle traffic between my Skype client and quite a few IP addresses within the Amazon EC2 compute cloud. I'd never seen that before. Usually my background traffic is to random cable and DSL addresses. My guess is that Amazon is where Skype brought up their "extra mega-supernodes". EC2 is handy for things like that.

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