Where Did the Minutes Go?


By Paul BrodskyJan 4, 2024


The year 2014 represents the peak for international voice traffic. International call minutes declined the following year, for the first time since the Great Depression—and it's been downhill ever since.

The slump in voice traffic has turned into a full-scale retreat, as carriers’ traffic fell by 4.0% in 2018, by 6.2% in 2019 and by a further 7.2% in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a short-term rally in international call volumes in early 2020, but things pretty much returned to the new normal. Traffic fell a further 6.1% in 2021.

By these standards, 2022 was actually not a bad year, as traffic fell by "only" 5.8%.

By these standards, 2022 was actually not a bad year, as traffic fell by "only" 5.8%.

Down We Go...

Copyright_TeleGeography_tg_ta_traffic_history (1)

Notes: Data for 2023 are projections. Source: TeleGeography, © 2023 TeleGeography

Between 1983 and 2007, international phone traffic grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%, and traffic grew an even faster 21% CAGR between 1927 and 1983.

It's hard to believe then that the recent decline in traffic means that people have lost interest in communicating with friends and family abroad. Rather, it suggests that they are turning to other means of keeping in touch.

Where Did the Minutes Go?

You'll find answers in our new International Voice Report Executive Summary.

This analysis covers international call traffic, cross-border OTT traffic, wholesale revenues and traffic, traffic volumes of major carriers, and more.

Paul Brodsky

Paul Brodsky

Paul Brodsky is a Senior Research Manager at TeleGeography. He is part of the network, internet, cloud, and voice research team. His regional expertise includes Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

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