Virtual Phone Numbers for Business
Your quick, convenient guide to virtual business phone numbers.
What is a virtual phone number?
A virtual phone number is a digital phone line that companies use to forward calls to a physical landline phone, mobile device, or desktop softphone.
Virtual phone numbers use the internet to provide coverage, which lets the user be reached by phone or computer. Call forwarding through virtual phone numbers can be changed in many ways by routing calls to different devices, by time of day, and more-- allowing for more flexibility in communications for the user.
The safety of virtual phone numbers may depend on the service provider. With a reputable provider, you should have no safety concerns.
Buying and using virtual phone numbers is legal in all countries, but using virtual phone numbers for illegal activity will not be permitted by reputable providers.
There are many reasons why business should use virtual phone numbers. They're useful for any size business, from entrepreneurs to enterprises. Large companies can use virtual phone numbers to have more control in customizing how, when, and where calls are answered. This can be especially useful with enterprises that have multiple departments and office locations, for example.
Additionally, small businesses or entrepreneurs can find virtual phone numbers helpful as a way to have a business number and avoid giving their personal number to customers or clients. Having a virtual phone number a business number provides professionalism while also providing flexibility, letting the user recognize an incoming business call on their device, customize routing options, and more.
Common types of virtual business numbers
There are many different types of virtual phone lines available. Virtual number types include toll free, local, non-geographic, UIFN and more.
Toll free virtual numbers allow callers around the world to connect with businesses free of charge. In most countries, these virtual telephone numbers have some variation of the "800" dial-code. Learn more about toll free service providers.
Geographic/Local Numbers: Local virtual phone numbers, also known as DID numbers, are local VoIP numbers that allow you to forward calls to any location worldwide. Local numbers are tied to a specific city or area in a country, allowing businesses to have a local presence within that city, no matter where the business is located. Learn more about local virtual numbers.
Non-geographic numbers, also known as shared-cost numbers, are virtual phone lines with a dial-code that isn't specific to a local area or recognized as a toll free prefix. Just like a local virtual number, callers that dial a non-geographic phone number will pay a local call rate determined by their phone provider. Examples of non-geographic numbers include 1300 numbers in Australia, 600 numbers in the UAE, and 03 numbers in the UK.
A vanity number is any type of virtual phone line that has a memorable sequence of numbers, such as 1-800-NEW-KEYS or 1-855-555-5555. Because they are easy to remember, vanity numbers are more effective than other virtual numbers when used in advertising campaigns or as a primary business phone line. Learn more about vanity numbers.
UIFN is an acronym for Universal Free Phone Number. UIFN service allows businesses to advertise a single number that can be reached from multiple countries. Like toll free numbers, calls made to a UIFN are toll free for the caller-- however, these numbers have less availability and tend to be more expensive than toll free numbers.
Like toll free numbers, a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) allows callers to dial your business phone line without being charged for the call. Unlike toll free numbers, a single UIFN can be dialed toll free from several different countries. The benefit of a UIFN is that you can advertise the same business phone line across several different countries. However, the callers would still need to enter a dial-code specific to the country they are calling from. In addition, using a UIFN is much more expensive than simply setting up virtual phone lines in each country you want to take calls from. Learn more about Universal International Freephone Numbers.
Using virtual phone numbers for business
There are many features that virtual numbers can include that are incredibly helpful for businesses. Below, we've detailed a few of the most popular virtual phone numbers features such as call forwarding, IVR, SMS, and more.
Virtual numbers with call forwarding
Call forwarding is a telephone feature that redirects incoming phone calls to another destination and/or device. With virtual phone numbers, your number can be forwarded to any phone number and any device worldwide.
Virtual numbers with SMS
Virtual phone numbers for SMS allow businesses to receive and respond to incoming text messages from customers via the internet. The method that the user will receive the text message varies by provider, such as through an app or by having incoming messages forwarded to email. Users can then send a message back, which is received as a text to the customer. Texting can be incredibly useful for businesses because it is direct, non-invasive, and makes communications more personal between the business and the customer.
Virtual numbers with IVR
Virtual numbers with IVR, also known as Interactive Voice Response, allows callers to select from a list of automated prompts as a way to get routed to the information they are looking for. Callers can be directed to an automated message about business hours, be routed to leave a message, or be transferred to a customer service agent, for example. This feature makes communications more productive by saving both the time of the business and the customer.
Virtual Numbers with voicemail
In most cases, virtual numbers will include a voicemail feature to receive voice messages from customers. With some providers, virtual numbers with voicemail will also include voicemail transcription, allowing businesses to have messages transcribed and sent to their email.
Virtual numbers with extensions
A phone extension is an “extension” of a user's virtual phone number. Different extensions can have different features, such as call forwarding, voicemail, and so on. Phone extensions allow businesses to be able to quickly connect their callers to different departments and employees within a company.
International virtual numbers
International virtual phone numbers are offered by many number providers and allows businesses to have an international presence from any location. Having a phone number in another country can help businesses establish themselves locally in another country and also help customers in other countries avoid having to pay for expensive international calls.
International virtual phone numbers
At CallForwarding.com, we make international telecom simple. Get information about international virtual numbers from over 150 countries.
How much does a virtual phone number cost?
The total cost of your virtual number is made up a monthly fee, inbound and outbound call charges, and any add-on fees your provider charges for additional business features.
When you set up a business phone number, you can purchase a pay-per-minute plan or a package plan. Pay-per-minute plans will get you the cheapest monthly price, but you will pay a call charge for every minute of talk time you use and your per-minute call rates will be much higher on average than if you choose a package plan. Package plans already include a certain amount of talk time in your monthly fee, so you pay a high subscription fee, but the cost of your average call charges will be much lower than a pay-per-minute plan.
The country and number type play a major factor in your monthly cost. For example, you can set up toll free numbers or local virtual numbers in countries like the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, and many more for somewhere between $5 - $12 per month. But a toll free number in India may cost between $30 and $70 per month, while local virtual numbers are generally priced between $40 - $55.
Like your monthly pricing, your virtual number call charges depend on the number type, the country the number is associate with, and how many minutes of talk time you expect each month. For example, inbound calls made to a local virtual number in Singapore may cost you as much as $0.056 per minute if you have a low-cost plan with no included minutes. But if you expect a large number of calls to be made to the number and you set up a larger plan, your average call charge can may be as low as $0.02 per minute.
There are a few other things to watch out for when comparing your virtual phone number pricing options.
- Setup fees: Charging setup fees for a virtual number is becoming less common, but some providers still do so. If you want to use a provider that does charge setup fees, you should push to have those removed. If a virtual number provider thinks you will choose another VoIP service that does not charge setup fees, they are likely to drop those charges for you.
- Add-on features: If you want an advanced features included with your business phone number, you can expect to pay add-on fees for those. However, that includes workforce-management features like call queuing, extended call recording storage, SMS, live call-monitoring, etc. There are plenty of virtual number providers that include standard features like virtual attendant, time-based routing, voicemail-to-email, and many more with every VoIP service plan.
Business phone number porting
Virtual number porting, also known as number transfer, is a system that allows the end-users to keep their existing virtual number while switching from one provider to another.
Porting a virtual phone number requires the participation of multiple entities. Along with the cooperation of the customer, current carrier, and new carrier, businesses will also need the participation of the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC)--the world's largest number portability registry-- and the local regulatory authority.
Porting processes and porting requirements vary by country, but generally you'll need the following:
- Number porting form - To get the porting process started, reach out to the carrier you're porting to to complete their number porting forms to get the process started. Sometimes these forms can be found on your new provider's website.
- Letter of authorization - Next, you'll need a letter of authorization, or LOA. This letter will let your new provider reach out to your current provider on your behalf to complete the process required to get your number released and properly ported.
- Proof of ownership - Typically, proof of ownership of the number will also be required, which can be provided through a bill associated with the phone number that also lists your name and address.
Typically, porting a single number can be completed within 1 - 2 days, but can depend on the carrier.
In the last 20 years, several countries have added regulations requiring carriers to allow number porting to other services. In most cases, if your business phone number is associated with a country with a reasonably established telecom infrastructure, your number should be portable. Any local provider should be able to help you port your number to their service. To see if your international number is portable, you can start by checking AVOXI's International Phone Number Portability Guide, as they specialize in international number porting. If they cannot port your number, your next best option would be to check if any of your local providers can facilitate the number porting process for you.
Yes, landline numbers can be ported to VoIP. The porting process is the same as any other kind of phone number.
Most countries have regulations in place that prohibit your existing provider from charging you a fee to port your numbers. And since other carriers are happy to have your business, you should have no trouble finding a provider that will port your number for free. AVOXI, a partner of Callforwarding.com, will actually pay you up to $1,000 to port your existing business phone number to their network. Learn more about porting business phone numbers with AVOXI.
How to get a virtual business number today
Callforwarding.com compares the top VoIP services around the world in order to connect our readers to the best provider for their needs. With this goal in mind, Callforwarding.com has partnered with AVOXI, one of the top providers of virtual business phone numbers worldwide. The reasons we endorse AVOXI’s business phone services include:
- Customers can buy virtual phone numbers online and start taking calls within minutes
- Every customer has access to 24/7 phone support and receives a dedicated account manager
- Their affordable service plans come with several VoIP business features at no extra cost
- If you already have business phone numbers, you can earn up to $1,000 for every number you transfer to their network
- They do not charge setup fees and offer a risk-free cancellation policy for any virtual business number
For more details about their service plans, visit their dedicated service page: International Virtual Phone Numbers
Buy virtual phone numbers online
- Use the widget to select your number type and click the green button
- You’ll be sent an online shopping cart where you can compare pricing plans and customize your account basics
- After submitting your information, your account login details will be sent to the email you provided
- That’s it! You’re ready to log in and start taking calls, customizing your call forwarding rules, and much more
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