In a follow up to my post the other day on Jahjah, I spoke to Greg Spector, Chief Marketing Officer of Rebtel today and he explained Rebtel’s model to me in great detail.
There are a number of differences between the two services, the main one being Jahjah requires a software download to work on your mobile. Rebtel has no such requirement.
In essence, what you do with Rebtel’s service is register your numbers (mobile, landline, etc.) on their site, register the numbers of people you want to contact who are living abroad, Rebtel then generates local numbers for you and your contacts. You call your contact and instruct them to hang up and call you back on the local number you just appeared to call them from – then Rebtel connects the two local calls at no charge (other than the $1 per month you pay Rebtel and the local call charges).
The biggest issue I see with this service is, as I pointed out in the title of this post, why would anyone want to pay to receive a call from me? The cost may be minimal, but it takes a hell of a cheek to call someone and tell them to call you back. Unless you know they desperately want to hear from you or they are close enough family that they don’t mind paying for calls from you.
This model may not present problems in the US where people with mobile phones already pay to receive phone calls and have large voice plans for very little outlay (Cingular, for example, on its Nation 900 w/Rollover plan offers 900 minutes per month for $59.99) so effectively they have free outgoing calls.
Compare that to the situation in Europe where on my Vodafone plan, for instance, I pay â‚¬49 per month and get 200 minutes. In a situation where I don’t pay to receive calls and outgoing calls are expensive, it takes a bit of neck to ring someone and ask them to call you back even on a local number, unless you know them very well.