A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) number is a phone number given to you by your VoIP service that looks and functions like a normal phone number. The internet is used to route calls rather than the traditional telephone system, and they are unique to each business or person and not dedicated to a location.
VoIP numbers and VoIP phone systems may also be called:
- Virtual phone number / system
- Cloud phone number / system
- Internet phone number / system
In this article we aim to help you discover more about VoIP numbers, as well as the VoIP pros and cons to help you decide if a VoIP phone number is the best option for you or your business.
Table of Contents
- What is a VoIP Phone Number?
- How Does VoIP Work?
- How Do VoIP Phone Numbers Differ from Landline Numbers?
- Advantages of VoIP Over Landline Systems
- Disadvantages of a Virtual Phone System
- Types of Internet Phone Numbers
- Why Should I Get a VoIP Number?
- Can I Switch to a VoIP Number?
- How Do I Get a VoIP Number?
What is a VoIP Phone Number?
In the not-so-distant past, you may have had several phone numbers: your home phone your desk phone at work, your cell phone, your car phone, and even your vacation home phone! Someone trying to speak with you had to know where you were so they could call the correct number because each phone was assigned an individual number.
VoIP numbers are assigned to individual people, not telephones. A VoIP number can be used on almost any device connected to the internet. Any device enabled with the virtual number can be used to make or receive a call, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or dedicated internet phones.
So, imagine when that important call comes in when you are working from home, as many of us are these days! Instead of your desk phone at work ringing and the caller finding no answer, all your VoIP connected devices ring simultaneously. When you answer, the caller is unaware you are not at your desk, and they are happy to have reached you.
There is even more to VoIP numbers than being easily reachable! There are numerous additional benefits of using new internet-based phone systems as most providers include many of these benefits as part of their standard package. New mobile data and cloud-based technology enable providers to offer an amazing range of facilities. You can review the features of the Netlines Business Phone App here.
How Does VoIP Work?
A VoIP phone (or any other VoIP enabled device) uses a microphone to convert your voice into an analog electrical signal. This is then converted into a digital signal (data). This data is then squashed into a “packet” of data and transmitted over the internet to the device you are calling. When the device is answered, the data is “unpacked” and converted back into an analog signal. This signal is converted back to sound by the loudspeaker in the receiver’s device.
From the user’s point of view, there is little difference in user experience between the VoIP phone call and the traditional phone call. You dial the number, the call is transferred, the other phone rings, the recipient answers the phone, and you chat. In the end, you “hang up” the phone.
To enable this to happen, you will likely need some slightly different equipment instead of your old phone.
The main requirement is that you have an internet connection. Fiber-optic connection with unlimited data is preferred, but VoIP is possible using a copper wire connection and a limited data plan. However, call quality may be reduce, and additional costs may be incurred with heavy use.
The most common VoIP connected devices are:
A compatible desk phone and adapter to connect it to the internet. Most internet providers now supply a Wi-Fi router that includes a socket for a phone, which allows you to plug your phone into the router.
A laptop or desktop computer with an internet connection. You will also need a headset, or speakers and a microphone. Most laptops include speakers and microphone as standard.
A smartphone or tablet with an internet connection. All you need to do is download your chosen app and follow the simple set up instructions. If you already have a smartphone, you can already use VoIP calling simply by setting it up. The Netlines App is incredibly easy to install and use.
How Do VoIP Phone Numbers Differ from Landline Numbers?
What is a Landline?
The traditional landline phone uses a microphone to convert your voice into an analog electrical signal, and an exchange is used to connect the phones. This signal is then transmitted via a pair of copper wires to the receiving telephone. The receiving phone uses a loudspeaker to convert the electrical signal back into sound.
The landline system does have its disadvantages and limitations. When you call someone, you effectively rent the copper wires that connect your phones for the duration of the call, making it expensive. A landline system is limited to features like call diverting and playing an automated message. Plus, the technology itself is becoming obsolete. Companies are moving to VoIP, while fiber optic technology is replacing the old, twisted copper pair systems.
The main differences between the traditional phone system and the new VoIP systems are:
Many More Features
The new cloud phone services available today offer an abundance of features, and many are included in the most basic packages. Any additional features for old-fashioned, traditional phones need to be paid for and supplied. You can see examples like from NetLines such as groundbreaking conference call facilities and call recording.
New Up-to-Date Technology
The main technological difference is VoIP systems are digital, while the old phone system is still partially analog. Digital data transmission happens incredibly fast compared to old analog data. The digital signal makes the data compatible with other digital systems such as digital voice recording, call logging, or cloud-based virtual assistants.
This new VoIP technology is reliant on both your and the call recipient’s internet connection and hardware. Any malfunction in the system could lead to disconnection. Fortunately, modern electrical equipment is reliable and robust. The simplicity of the old, twisted-pair copper wire system does lead to an exceptionally reliable system. VoIP falls slightly behind in this area only.
This table shows some of the differences between VoIP and landline phone numbers.
|Requires Internet Connection||Yes, ideally high-speed fiber optic but can use anything over 3 MBps up and down.||No|
|Advanced Features Included in Monthly Plan||Normally yes – check out some of the features available with a Netlines monthly plan.||No|
|Impacted by Internet Outages||Yes. Fortunately, these are becoming increasingly rare.||No|
|Long-Distance Costs||Included in most monthly plans||Expensive and charged by the minute|
|Multimedia Communication||Can include video calling and conference calling||No. Limited to voice only|
|High Setup Fee||No setup fees. The customer can normally set the system up by downloading an app and following instructions||Yes – an engineer needs to visit and install the line and any extras like an exchange or answering machine|
|Requires Telephone Hardware||No – Can use existing hardware such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.||Yes|
Advantages of VoIP Over Landline Systems
Modern Technology Integrates with Other Systems & Services
An example of this is sending SMS or MMS from your computer to a smartphone. The two systems are linked via the VoIP phone number. It is possible to integrate multiple devices, use several numbers on one device, and use one number on several devices.
Choose Your Features
VoIP phone numbers usually come with a long list of free features so you can tailor the features to your business needs. Should you need something more specific, you can add the desired feature to your package.
A VoIP phone number can give your business greater operational flexibility. You can choose what kind of numbers you have for different purposes, including toll-free and vanity numbers. The numbers are mobile so your employees can work remotely or share a hot desk, shift departments, or branch offices easily. An incoming call can simultaneously ring on several different devices, allowing the call to be answered wherever the recipient is. Internal business communications are easier, and you have a choice of types of call, including team video conferencing between the office and those working remotely.
Virtual phone numbers can save your business money because the set-up cost can be lower, and the operational cost is often significantly lower than landline options, particularly if your business is national or international. The conference call facility means virtual meetings are possible saving you travel time and costs. Some estimates show a saving of 40% to 80% compared to landline systems.
As your company evolves and grows, so can your phone system. There is no need to replace expensive exchange hardware or route new cables to desks. Simply download the app onto the required devices and set up the required features, and you can add more numbers to your business for new staff and departments as needed.
Easy to Block Spam & Telemarketing Calls
Spam and marketing calls can plague a business with unnecessary distraction and timewasting. A VoIP number can be easily protected from these calls with a variety of anti-spam options like an auto-attendant or call management system.
Disadvantages of a Virtual Phone System
Until recently it has been true that old landline phones can offer better sound quality than an internet phone, but this is rapidly changing. Sound quality is due to the available bandwidth of the system and the reliability of the connection. As internet connections become more stable and have greater bandwidth, the sound quality increases.
Reliability is also due to the stability of the internet connection. With an old landline system, the traditional connection was via solid copper wires, making it exceptionally reliable. Due to the instability of internet connections, common problems include weak Wi-Fi signals, calls dropping, and calls being interrupted.
Types of Internet Phone Numbers
An additional advantage of a VoIP phone number is that you can choose the type of number(s) based on their advantages and how they’ll work best for your business. You can even mix and match different number types to different business needs.
Local numbers are great for a business looking to connect with the local community because they can help you build local trust within an area. You show you are a local company with a local base, and this infers a greater understanding of local customer’s needs. You may be sitting in HQ on the other side of the country, but your customer does not realize this.
Toll-free numbers demonstrate you are serious about your customer relations and want them to call you so much that you are willing to pay for the call. Toll-free numbers are great for helplines, customer service centers, and direct order lines. Plus, the toll-free number makes you look like a large national company. Using an internet phone system means you will only have to pay the local rate for your customer’s calls, even if they call you from the other side of the world!
Vanity numbers help people remember your number and become part of your marketing strategy. Get the best possible vanity number as your main sales desk number and incoming calls will increase! It is much easier to remember a catchphrase or business name than a string of random numbers. Think about 1-800-46-33339 or 1-800-Go-FedEx. See which one you remember tomorrow.
Why Should I Get a VoIP Number?
You should consider getting a VoIP number if any of the following applies to you:
- You have a new business;
- You are looking for a quick way to get a business number;
- You are looking for a cost-effective number;
- You know you will be expanding your business either in staff numbers, branch locations, remote working, or mobile operators;
- You need more facilities like an answering system, video conferencing, or call management system;
- You want to save money both on set up costs and long-distance phone calls;
- You need to future-proof your business technology and avoid investments in hardware that will be soon outdated;
- You want to replace outdated hardware with new systems;
- You want to integrate different communication systems like mobile phones, video meeting rooms, laptop computers, and cloud-based storage.
Can I Switch to a VoIP Number?
A quick business analysis is necessary to make sure you have everything you need once you have decided you want a VoIP number. Today, most businesses are already equipped with the foundational basics and are ready to get started with an internet phone system. However, considering your options, needs, and your growth will help prevent any minor glitches once the system is implemented.
Can Your System Support VoIP?
The first thing to check is that your existing hardware like laptops, desktops, and mobile cell phones can support the VoIP software you have chosen. Check out the technical specifications of the hardware and match them to the requirement of the internet phone system.
Can Your Network Infrastructure Support VoIP?
Checking your internet connection, upload speeds, and download speeds is vital prior to implementing a VoIP phone system. There are several free services to do this, like Speedtest.net. Is your current connection sufficient to handle the number of simultaneous calls you think you will be making as a business? More simultaneous calls, video streaming, web browsing, cloud storage, and backup systems require greater internet bandwidth. To be safe, upgrade your connection if you are close to the limit. Consult your VoIP supplier and internet service provider if you are unsure or need assistance choosing the best service package for your needs.
Are Your Employees Ready for VoIP?
There is little point in providing a great communications system for your employees if they do not know how to or want to use it! Luckily, internet phones operate in a similar way to existing cell and desk phones. Social media has also already introduced most people to video calling. There should be little problems encountered in rolling out a new phone system.
How Do I Get a VoIP Number?
Choose Your VoIP Provider
The first step is to find a VoIP service provider. A simple web search will show you are not limited to the normal run of the mill landline providers. There are hundreds of providers all offering different prices, services, and facilities. Choose the one that is right for your business that will let you evolve and grow. You can compare the favorite providers in this useful comparison table.
Decide on Your Phone Number
Choose your number(s) or transfer any existing numbers to the new system. Keeping your existing number may save you from changing any existing marketing. You can always include any new numbers in future marketing campaigns, but this is the best time to decide if you need an additional toll-free or a vanity number.
Set Up Your System & Start Making Calls
In some cases, it is a simple as downloading an app to your device. Set-up can be a matter of minutes and before the end of the day, you could be saving money by using the internet to call your Hong Kong supplier and your client in the Cayman Islands!
What About the Future?
The mobile communications revolution has been quietly happening since the invention of the internet. Recent developments in cell phone technology and fiber optic broadband, coupled with Wi-Fi and 5G innovation are going to further change the way we communicate. VoIP looks to be right at the center of the paradigm shift and the basis for future business communications. Things have certainly come a long way from two twisted copper wires!