Rebtel, a London-based VoIP startup, seems to be taking a white-label approach to boost usage of its services. The company will announce a brand license deal with easyGroup, a company started by discount carrier easyJet founder and serial entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. As part of this deal, easyGroup will sell cheap international calls under the brand name easyMobile.
easyGroup is well-known in Europe for offering discount services — from air travel to Internet access to rentals, and cheap international calling fits in with easyGroup’s overall business mantra. easyMobile is going to target 5.5 million Brits who live overseas and a million non-British EU citizens. VoIP has become popular in Europe, mostly because carriers, both fixed and wireless, have high tariffs for long-distance calls.
Over the ast few years, there has been a huge influx of Eastern Europeans in the UK workforce. Their international calling patterns offer an opportunity for a discounter, especially if it works with a mobile phone. Rebtel’s mobile VoIP service will work with any mobile phone. The two companies didn’t disclose the terms of the agreement. From what I understand, there will be some revenue exchanged. Rebtel has also done a similar deal with Polish portal Onet.pl, making this their second white-label deal. I guess like Jajah, Rebtel is coming to grips with the reality that building a brand isn’t easy.
Rebtel is one of the companies that I ignored for a while, mostly because at the time of their launch in May 2006, I found the user experience challenging. The company that raised over $20 million for Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures has since be working to make the service easier to use.
Our friend Luca Filigheddu was singing their praises recently. That said, this is an increasingly crowded market — several players have mobile VoIP solutions that essentially compete with Rebtel, not to mention Pat Phelan’s roaming discounter, MAXroam, a service I use and recommend.
All these new developments…maybe it’s time to catch up with co-founder Hjalmar Winbladh.