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Skype, the popular VoIP service, has been having technical difficulties with its SkypeIn service which enables Skype users to have a real phone number and receive normal phone calls through their Skype service.

Users report that only a small proportion of calls to UK numbers are getting through, with voice mail failing and some users not receiving any calls at all.

The problem seems to have surfaced in the middle of October, but has been getting steadily worse since, and is now so bad that Skype is mailing those who complain to apologise and promise compensation. But with business customers reporting lost clients, and personal users missing out on contacts, it seems unlikely that Skype will be able to satisfy many of the affected users.

Only the SkypeIn service appears to be experiencing problems. SkypeIn allows incoming calls from the normal phone network which are routed to a Skype account, or it would do if it was working.

SkypeOut, the service which allows Skype users to dial normal numbers, uses infrastructure supplied by BT and is working fine, and Skype-to-Skype calls are also connecting without any problems.

In theory, any call experiencing problems connecting to a Skype account should instead be routed to the voice mail service. But some customers report that all their incoming calls have been routed to voice mail, regardless of their availability, while others have no voice mail functionality at all. Many users are realising that an unreliable phone service can be worse than no phone service at all, as callers receiving an unobtainable signal may well assume the worst.

We tried hard to get a comment from Skype about this problem, but despite promises they've been unable to provide us any further information. We hope this is because all the engineers who understand the problem are busy fixing it, but telephony customers are notoriously fickle and, unless the problems are fixed soon, Skype may well find itself with no calls to route. ®

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