KeKu is a VoIP telephony startup that has quietly build a global platform during its beta phase. Now, the company is ready to come out of beta. At its core, KeKu is pretty similar to services like Rebtel and even Skype, as it focuses on letting you make cheap international phone calls and also offers free calls between its own users. KeKu, however, puts a stronger emphasis on what it likes to call “any-to-any” calling than most of its competitors. This means that you can use it to make calls from your landline, mobile phone or the company’s free Android or iOS apps to call any phone number in the world (a BlackBerry app is also in the works).
One of the service’s most interesting features is that it allows you to set up local numbers in over 40 countries that you can then assign them to your international contacts (the company actually has a patent for this technology). Thanks to this, you can use your landline or mobile phone to call a local number you have assigned to a given contact and then have KeKu automatically connect this call to the international number. It’s worth noting that Skype, which offers a similar service under the name “Skype To Go,” only provides this service in 23 countries.
Overall, the service’s prices for paid calls are comparable and often somewhat cheaper than its competitors’. KeKu also lets you send free international text messages.
For users in the U.S. (and those who make many calls to the U.S.), KeKu also offers an unlimited plan for calls inside the U.S. for $19.99 per year.
As KeKu’s CEO Manilo Carrelli told me earlier this week, his team, which includes a number of telecom veterans, the company is especially proud of its proprietary routing system. The team’s focus, he said, is on providing the highest possible call quality and its systems ensure that calls are always routed based on network quality. He also stressed that he wants the company to be something akin to a “Swiss Army Knife of calling,” which explains KeKu’s focus on a global market and support for good old landlines.
During its beta phase, the company signed up over 400,000 subscribers worldwide. While the company wouldn’t reveal any precise numbers, Carrelli told me that the “majority” are paying users.