Published December 22, 2010
Skype's popular Internet telephony service has been partly returned to normal, following an hours-long interruption of service that prevented millions of users worldwide from phoning home.
Users across the globe reported issues accessing the service Wednesday morning, prompting the company to acknowledge the issue on Twitter: "Some of you may have problems signing in to Skype -- we're investigation, and we're sorry for the disruption to your conversations."
Skype followed up with another tweet assuring users that their "engineers and site operations are working non-stop to get things back to normal."
The problem is unconnected to the hacking attacks that disabled popular websites such as MasterCard and Visa last week. Chaim Haas, a spokesman for Skype, explained to FoxNews.com that the company's telephony network relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to stay up and running, referencing a blog post by the company.
"Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available," network features which act like phone directories for Skype, Haas said. "Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype."
Engineers created new "mega-supernodes" that solved the problem, Haas said. As of about 3:30 p.m. EST, normal services had started returning to Skype, the company said, although it may take several more hours before all users can sign in again.
Luxembourg-based Skype was founded in 2003 as an alternative to the standard telephone network by transmitting voice, video, and text conversations the Internet.
In August, Skype announced plans to raise up to $100 million in shares by listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Last month, the company announced a new milestone in traffic, with 25 million concurrent users.
On Tuesday, Skype CEO Tony Bates detailed the company's plans for expansion with MercuryNews.com. He hopes to charge consumers for unspecified "premium services," attract new users, and extend the service onto TV and mobile devices.
The last major outage occurred in 2007 and lasted an entire day.