“Are you still there?”

I use a lot of Skype in my work, both regular and “Skype for Business”. Anyone who has used Skype before, knows that every now and then the connection between callers is bad and the voice cuts out. If it cuts out mid-sentence, it’s easy to recognize as a technical glitch. But sometimes it happens in between sentences and you’re facing total radio silence. After a few seconds you wonder out loud “Are you still there?” to which the other party either responds or doesn’t. You hit the red button and start a new call.

I don’t know exactly when the change happened, but now Skype also cuts out the mic when the line is perfectly good. Once neither of the participants is talking, there’s total silence. Especially in Finnish communication culture, it’s normal to have lengthy silent moments during conversations and I find myself asking again “Are you still there?” to which I get a prompt reply. I feel frustrated and a bit silly.

I’m guessing this feature was introduced to reduce bandwidth consumption, but it has an adverse effect on (my) user experience. A simple solution would be to add an option to Skype which would automatically play faint static noise in the background as long as the connection is good and nobody is talking.

 

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