Rebtel - the Next Skype?

Leave it to the Scandinavians to yet again come up with the next best thing. I've been away from the blogs for a few days, and just came across Jeff Pulver's entries from earlier this week about his trip to Sweden. On his Tuesday post, Jeff reveals the reason for his trip - to visit Rebtel, a Stockholm-based startup that is doing for mobile VoIP what Skype has done for the PC.

Jeff does a great job explaining what Rebtel is doing and why they could become a real disruptor in the mobile market - he's definitely a fan now. There are an infinite variety of twists for VoIP calling plans, and nobody has found the holy grail yet, and Rebtel is another step along athe way.

In a nutshell, here's how it works. Like Skype, or any IM platform, you first need to be in the club, so to speak. So, once you have your Rebtel buddies, it just costs $1 a week to have free mobile-to-mobile calling. Say I'm here in Toronto, and I have a Rebtel friend in Vancouver. The $1/week fee gives you access to local phone numbers, so in this case, my Vancouver friend gets a Toronto-based phone number, and once that's in place, we talk free, as if it was a local call. There's more to it than that, but I think you get the idea. Currently, Rebtel works in 30 countries, and of course the economics are much more compelling when making calls from country-to-country.

I'm commenting on Jeff's post mainly because it's the first blog piece I've seen about them. I learned about Rebtel recently via a consulting project, but there was nothing I could really post about. They since slid off my radar, and until now, I haven't seen anything out there about them. So it was great to see Jeff's post, especially since he's sharing his first hand impressions. I can't think of too many other people who will pick up and go to Sweden just to check out a new company. Jeff may be pretty focused on video these days, but his heart is still in voice!

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