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How much does it cost to run Signal messaging app?

Signal, a non-profit secure messaging app, spends millions every year on running costs, including storage, servers, bandwidth, and additional services.

By: HT TECH
Updated on: Nov 17 2023, 13:40 IST
Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps in the world. (Signal)
Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps in the world. (Signal)

Privacy and data protection have become big issues in the digital age and big tech companies have often been accused of collecting user data in recent times. While most messaging apps such as WhatsApp end-to-end encryption, the sharing of data raises concerns, especially when one has no control over it. This is where Signal comes in. An alternative to WhatsApp, Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps out there. It has been known for collecting as little data as possible and has even been promoted by tech moguls such as Elon Musk. 

Unlike other apps that are run by big tech companies, Signal is run by a non-profit foundation, and running an app that has over 40 million monthly active users certainly isn’t cheap. But how much does it actually cost to run Signal?

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Signal app: Breakdown of running costs

In a blog post, Signal detailed how much it spends to keep the instant messaging app running. Apart from an initial loan provided by internet entrepreneur Brian Acton, Signal is mostly run on small donations, which are spent to provide a secure messaging alternative to other apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.

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The expenditure breakdown by Signal revealed that it spends approximately $1.3 million per year on storage and $2.9 million per year on servers. The total bandwidth costs $2.8 million per year while other additional services add up to almost $700,000 per year. According to the company, the cost of registration services for verifying phone numbers when people first install Signal, or when they re-register on a new device, currently averages around $6 million per year. In total, the total infrastructure cost of Signal is about $14 million per year as of November 2023.

In terms of revenue, the company claims, “We estimate that by 2025, Signal will require approximately $50 million dollars a year to operate—and this is very lean compared to other popular messaging apps that don’t respect your privacy.”

Workers at Signal

Signal has three distinct client teams for iOS, Android, and desktop platforms, which develop new features, and keep the app running like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, it also has dedicated engineering teams that handle the development and maintenance of the Signal Server and all of its infrastructure, calling libraries like RingRTC, and core libraries like libsignal. In total, just 50 full-time employees work at Signal, which is much smaller compared to other platforms such as Line, and KakaoTalk.

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First Published Date: 17 Nov, 13:40 IST
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