The future of VoIP is in mobile says Rebtel boss

Rebtel considered to be one of the biggest competitors to Skype, is banking on the said company to not develop fast enough on providing services for smartphone users. Skype does offer mobile applications, but it has been rather sluggish in launching and improving them.

Rebtel CEO, Andreas Bernstrom points out that when the Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype wraps up, Rebtel will be the world’s largest independent mobile VoIP provider with more than 11.5 million mobile users and offering its IP telephony services in over 200 countries.

Reacting to Microsoft buying their main rival for US$8.5 billion in cash, Bernstrom said the acquisition validated the VoIP and mobile telephony market in general. He said the industry has a long way to go and Rebtel is financially sound to lead it in the next five years.

Rebtel was founded in 2006, rapidly raising US$20 million in its first round of venture capital from known investors like Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures. The VoIP company routes international calls made from any cell phone or landline to local numbers to cut the cost of calling someone overseas. Rebtel offers mobile apps for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry handsets.

Since their Series A round last 2006, the VoIP provider has not raised a single dime of outside capital, because, as Bernstrom proudly said, they simply did not need to. In 2009, the company has US$18 million in revenues, more than doubling that amount the following year at US$40 million.

Currently, with a staff of some 60 employees, Rebtel boasts an annual revenue rate of US$60 million and is very profitable. To compare, VoIP company fring was started earlier than Rebtel and currently has an annual revenue rate around US$10 million.

To expand the business faster and take advantage of the market sentiments that followed the Skype acquisition, Rebtel is now considering raising more capital and has even pondered the possibility of bringing the company public in the future.

Bernstrom has a lot of respect for VoIP companies like Viber and the quick pace at which their mobile applications have gone viral, but believes that the dependence of its users on WiFi and 3G connections will make for an unsatisfying user experience.

What Rebtel plans to do is “offer the best of all IP communications in a seamless integration,” said Bernstrom. “VoIP is simply an improved fixed line service. Mobile VoIP, however, has not matured due to the limitations of the data network. 2012 will determine who the winners are”, added Bernstrom.

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