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Rebtel expands VoIP calling into iPad apps

Rebtel, which bills itself as the largest mobile VoIP company after Skype, is expanding its emphasis on the mobile with the launch of its first iPad app. The company is looking to ride the wave of growth iPad and get even more people to its free and low-cost calling service.

Rebtel is now up to 17 million users, with access to services over Wi-Fi and 3G on iPhone, Android devices and PC. IPad users previously could install Rebtel’s iPhone-optimized applications on their tablet, but now with the dedicated iPad app, they get better experience that takes advantage of the larger screen. The app offers a tablet-optimized navigation and graphics and also integrates with an iPad address book, making it easy to see that you can call for free. A version of Android tablet is expected in the coming weeks as a Windows phone client is expected by the end of September.

Andreas Bernstrom, Rebtel’s CEO, said the app is useful as more people shift the work load of their computing to mobile devices. He said one of the strengths of Rebtel is that it was built from the ground up to be mobile, which is how most of his customers use the system.

"We are squarely in the middle of the post-PC era, marked by an increasing amount of customers who leapfrogged the classic desktop PC in favor of multi-purpose mobile devices that allows for more creativity and social interactions. We are very excited to expand our development pipeline to respond to this growing global demand for tablets and iPads. "

Rebtel, which just passed the 15 million user mark in February, will continue to grow as more people turned on its ability to offer free and cheap calls. Bernstrom said Rebtel call out lines are up to 60 percent cheaper than Skype. He added the company, which is set to make $85 million in revenue this 2012, Rebtel has an average revenue per user three times more than Skype. He said the average user will spend 350 minutes a month calling Rebtel.

The rise of so-called over-the-top voice and messaging providers are putting more and more pressure on the carriers, seeing some of their most profitable services undercut by Internet-based applications. Bernstrom said the operators are increasingly having to confront the new reality of business as more users look to OTT services. A Juniper Research report forecast that 640 million people will use the OTT mobile VoIP services by 2016.

Carriers will need to adjust their pricing plan and coordinate the fact that while the majority of their traffic data, most of their revenue from voice and SMG. Mobile analyst Chetan Sharma recently reported that 85 percent of traffic to the carrier for four nationwide mobile network operators are pure data, but that data traffic only accounted for 39 percent of all mobile data revenues.

"At some point, they have to say, 'Screw voice, you get it for free. Now, you want to have 5-10-15 GB of data?'" Bernstrom said. "That years away but we are helping to speed that up."