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Skype Explains Its Outages Today

In what’s likely being caused by a holiday-related wave of data-gobbling video calls crashing into a rocky shore of technical issues, Internet phone and video chat service Skype has been having outage issues throughout the afternoon, affecting millions of users. Speaking to the BBC, Skype CEO Tony Bates apologized for a state of affairs in which “clients are coming on and offline and sometimes they are crashing in the middle of calls.”

The Skype blog explains the outages in further detail (supernodes!), and warns that fixing them “may take a few hours”:

Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can’t find them immediately (for example, because they’re connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.

Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you.

What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal.

(via BBC, Skype blog)

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