SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Internet calling service Skype SA was experiencing an outage Wednesday, though it was not immediately clear how many of its millions of users were affected. The company said in the afternoon that it was fixing the problem and it expected service would return in several hours.
A little before noon New York time, Skype tweeted on its Twitter feed that some users might have trouble signing in to its service and that it was looking into the cause. Two hours later, Skype said its engineers and site operations team were working to fix a problem, and about a half-hour later the company linked to a blog post about the outage and thanked users for "continued patience while we return things to normal."
On Skype's blog, head blogger Peter Parkes said that the problem was due to many of what Skype calls "supernodes" going offline because of a problem affecting some versions of Skype's software.
Skype's operations depend on the connections between users' computers and telephones. "Supernodes" are computers that the company said are like phone directories: When Skype can't quickly find people that a user is trying to contact, it will look for one of these computers to find them.
"As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you," Parkes said.
Parkes said Skype is building "mega-supernodes" to fix the problem, but that it could take a few hours before service returns and even longer before some features _ such as group video calling _ start working again.
Skype's software offers a range of free services, including the ability to make voice or video calls and send instant messages to other Skype users. Users pay for services such as making calls from a PC to a landline or cell phone.
Skype, which was sold late last year by eBay Inc. for about $2 billion to an investor group that includes Skype's founders, is based in Luxembourg. The company said in a November regulatory filing that it had 560 million registered users at the end of June.