Rebtel launches free international calls without WiFi

Rebel Calling
The new service will cost $1 per month from 2017 - plus local call charges. Image via techcrunch

Rebtel just disrupted the telephone industry forever. At least that’s what the Twitterati’s saying and unfortunately, it’s not going to affect us here in the UAE just yet.

On Wednesday, the Swedish company launched Rebel Calling, a new app that allows consumers to make international phone calls without an internet connection.

The service has been launched for free in more than 50 countries as of this week, but users will still need to pay local carriers’ call charges. Rebtel itself will charge $1 (Dh3.675) per month from next year.

According to a map on Rebtel.com, the service is available in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. India and the Gulf are off the grid for now.

“We’re here because we believe that this market needs a revolution,” CMO Fredrik Wrahme told the International Business Times.

Rebtel
Rebel Calling is available in more than 50 countries. Image via Rebtel.com

How it works

The app routes phone calls to servers located in the country of origin, which connect over the internet to a server in the destination country. That server then calls the desired number locally.

Technically, the service still uses the internet, but Rebtel insiders say it’s much clearer than other VoIP services such as Skype, Viber or Tango, which are notorious for their dropped calls here in the UAE.

CEO Magnus Larsson told Digital Trends that users can expect “the stability of the traditional GSM telco connection, but from a mostly free service”.

For users who don’t have the app, such as us here in the UAE, friends and family back home can call us at prices starting $5 per month. Of course, local carriers will apply call charges depending on the user’s plan.

Rebtel says it hopes to target young, connected people who communicate globally. “We want to find the young, multicultural millennials, because we know this product needs to be used by younger ambassadors,” Wrahme said. But whether millennials latch on to the new service when they’ve already got other options remains to be seen. Wrahme said that the company is partnering with Vice Media on an ad campaign, International Business Times reported.

However, the service has already been so popular that the Rebtel.com site was down most of Wednesday and Thursday, when #GNTECH tried to access it. “We’re currently experiencing a high volume of traffic due to overwhelming interest in our new products. Please be patient and check back later,” the company said in a tweet.

Rebtel in the UAE

And what about here in the UAE? VoIP is illegal in the UAE, although Skype has been available for some time now. Accessing VoIP services via virtual private networks or VPNs is also illegal.

The UAE Telcommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has yet to put out a statement. #GNTECH reached out to both the TRA and Rebtel via Twitter, and is awaiting comment.

We’ll keep you posted.

Try your luck at the Rebtel website here.