What Is A VoIP Phone Number?
A VoIP phone number is fundamentally analogous to the other phone numbers we are familiar with. Landline numbers can be used over copper lines on the PSTN and cell phone numbers are used on cellular networks through handheld devices.
Similarly, a VoIP phone number is basically an identifier that is used to make calls on VoIP networks.
How Does a VoIP Phone Number Work?
As a relatively new term, not a lot of people know what a VoIP phone number is but it will be familiar to anyone working in technology. To the end user, the VoIP phone number looks and works exactly the same as other numbers.
It is a string of digits that can be entered on the dial pad and connects two people who want to talk. There is no learning curve or technical knowledge required to use a VoIP phone number.
VoIP devices are essentially plug-and-play i.e. an IP phone can be plugged into any available LAN port and the device will automatically register itself on the VoIP network.
From that point on, the number can be used as usual. It allows users to take their phone number with them, no matter where they are.
Difference between VoIP and Regular Phone Numbers
However VoIP phone numbers differ from normal numbers in some quite significant ways:
Perhaps the most important is that the area code has no actual relevance on VoIP networks. VoIP phone numbers work independently of location and there isn’t much of a difference between local, national or international numbers (although prices may differ according to the subscription plan).
Phone carriers typically allot numbers with area codes to determine the rates to be charged for a particular call.
With VoIP, users can choose a phone number with any area code (provided it is available with the operator) as there is no practical difference in price – whether it is made to a number with the same area code or a different one.
Landline numbers are typically tied to a particular device – whether it is a home phone, office phone or any other landline instrument.
VoIP phone numbers can be attached to multiple devices which makes it possible to use them in unique ways. Accordingly users can make a call from a desk phone, their smartphone or computer using the same number.
Such a system allows flexibility for users, especially in a business context. A VoIP phone number is more suited to how we work and live in today’s modern world.
The Advantages of a VoIP Phone Number
The way landline numbers are used hasn’t changed much over the last several decades. People make calls, send and receive voicemail and maybe use a few extra features like caller ID. A VoIP phone number has many advantages to offer users. A few of them are listed below:
Use any device
VoIP phone numbers are utilized on networks which rely on IP technology – the same networks that are used to deliver Internet access.
Just as users can access the Internet through any device ranging from smartphones, tablets to laptops and desktops, VoIP numbers can be used to make calls from a range of hardware.
The VoIP client may be an IP desk phone, analog landline instrument (with a converter), an app on a smartphone or tablet or a small piece of software that can be installed on any PC.
The experience is consistent across all devices and the person on the other end of the line sees the same number on their caller ID.
Incoming calls can ring multiple devices
Just as calls can be made on any device, incoming calls to a particular VoIP phone number can be answered from anywhere.
In fact, most VoIP operators offer a feature where in incoming calls can ring multiple devices simultaneously or one after the other depending on how the service is configured.
The feature may have different names on different services but is commonly referred to as ‘multi device ring’ and ‘find me follow me’ respectively.
This feature can be incredibly useful for both home and business users. Any person can be reached through a phone call, even if the caller has no idea where they are or which device they might be using.
With analog phone numbers, calls usually go to voicemail if they are not answered. With VoIP numbers, voicemail becomes the last resort as the user will be reached sooner or later. Organizations can offer better customer service by making sure calls are answered by a person as far as possible.
Since VoIP phone numbers are not connected to a specific location or area code, they can be used as virtual numbers. Users can choose a phone number with any area code, so that calls made to that number will incur local charges even if the caller does not use VoIP.
Families can use VoIP numbers to stay in touch even when they live far away without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money on long-distance charges. Businesses often purchase numbers with a specific area code so that customers from that location can just make a local call to reach them.
Almost everyone has gone through the hassle of moving to a new home or office. Since phone numbers are connected to dedicated lines, it means the hassle of getting a new number or asking the phone company to move the line to the new address (if it is possible of course).
VoIP numbers offer mobility – they can go with the user no matter where they move. The number can be used as long as there is an Internet connection.
VoIP number mobility can be especially beneficial to businesses not wanting to lose loyal customers who are used to dialing the old number.
There will be no need to update marketing materials, the company website or other communication to reflect new numbers. The old number will continue to function as usual.
VoIP phone numbers may not be different from regular numbers but they bring a whole host of new features and innovation to the humble phone call.