Virtual Phone Numbers look just like regular mobile or local numbers, except for the need of a specific location or SIM cards to enjoy their many benefits.
We’ve been recommending in several articles some different eSIMs for new residents or travelers to stay connected when abroad. In case you want to know why many companies out there are offering such services or what a virtual number is good for, you just landed in the right post.
What is a virtual phone number?
It is a cloud-based telephone number not associated to a typical line or physical phone. It is created online and can be used from any device all over the world via an app. This number can be used as a regular phone number, and actually has many other benefits we’ll explore in deep detail below.
Virtual numbers are however “real” numbers, in that they look virtually the same as other numbers: a string of digits (including the area code) that can be dialed to make a phone call. For outsiders it is not or only hardly possible to tell they are calling a virtual number instead of a physical connection. No technical knowledge is required to start using this service, making it quite an accessible technology for anyone.
First, you must select one of the many service providers out there, hire their services, download and install their app on your device and complete the authentication process to receive your virtual phone number.
What do you need to start using a virtual phone number?
A steady internet connection and a device with the ability to make internet calls (laptop, PC, tablet, smartphone, maybe even a hard phone) are the two fundamental requirements to make proper use of this IP telephony tool. This means companies and individuals can start using a virtual number as soon as they book the service, with no need to place a significant upfront investment in equipment.
Advantages of using virtual phone numbers
As we said before, users can choose a local, national or international phone number. The area code is not relevant for the VoIP system but for the ones calling the chosen number. Having a local area code is an advantage for your business, because it means a more trustworthy contact method for your customers in this area whilst your company’s headquarter may even be in another country. It is also a great way towards cheaper phone bills for family and friends of people living in other locations.
The most attractive advantage of a virtual phone number is the possibility to forward incoming calls to one of the pre-set telephone numbers. For instance, businesses can choose which phone in their company will ring if someone calls their number depending of the day and time: office phone, home phone, computer or any other corresponding device to attend the call.
Accordingly, users sharing the same number can make a voice call from any of the devices connected, with the call recipient seeing the virtual number as the origin of the call.
Another great feature is that users can take their virtual phone numbers with them to any destination, as they only depend on an internet connection. Actually, providers offer several numbers with codes from different countries. No physical connection between your phone and your phone network provider is required anymore. Enjoy having a local number or being accessible no matter where you go.
According to what we just said, with the use of virtual phone numbers, lines are no longer restricted by geographic locations or time zones. That means businesses can be available any time. Enhanced customer services with 24/7 availability that we sometimes see in today’s world are just an example of this principle.
Multiple benefits for business users
Depending on the virtual number plan selected, enterprises can enjoy the following benefits, among others:
- Customized ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) queues
- Virtual conference rooms with an unlimited number of participants
- Free instant messaging between devices
- Music for hold time
- Call recording
Types and applications
- Mobile numbers. Migrants and travelers are the second biggest market for virtual numbers. Going to a different country and keeping a home-based mobile number will allow family and friends to communicate via calls or SMS at low rates.
- Business applications
- Local lines. Numbers with a local code, country code or area code, allow companies to expand their business nationally and even worldwide with virtual offices anywhere in the world and to forget about expensive foreign phone lines.
- Toll free numbers. Toll-free numbers are a great tool to support sales and service departments. It is the business owner who is charged for the calls, so customers within the country enjoy assistance and service completely free of charge when needed.
- Calling cards or callback numbers. Virtual numbers can also be used as access numbers to contact a specific agent at your company, to avoid personal contact outside the business.
Requirements to purchase a virtual phone number
Today, you can start enjoying the service in a few steps with no document verification needed. In case of living in some of the few countries with regulations, the following documents may be requested by the provider:
- Copy of your passport or ID-card
- Registration certificate
- Document confirming an address
- Copy of a utility bill
- Photo of the user holding the passport