- VoIP numbers can be linked to on-premises or cloud-based systems.
- VoIP numbers have more sophisticated capabilities and offer more flexibility than traditional business phone systems, although many can work with your existing hardware.
- You can start by choosing a business phone system provider and connecting an existing number or choosing a new one.
- This article is for small and medium sized business owners considering a VoIP number.
In the globalized, digital world we live in today, you never know when you might need to make a call from anywhere using anything – so now it's time for businesses to choose between regional or time restrictions on their location or device. Leaning forward doesn't make sense. Fortunately, there is a solution.
A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) number allows you to choose whatever area code you want for the phone, or even have multiple phone numbers with different area codes. Thanks to these virtual numbers, it's never been easier to customize and operate a business from a variety of environments – and there are a whole host of other benefits.
Editor's Note: Looking for the Right Business Phone System for Your Business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
If you are wondering what this means and whether VoIP numbers are a good option for you, then you are at the right place. We'll walk you through how VoIP numbers work, how they compare to traditional phone numbers, how to get one, and some things to look for along the way.
How does VoIP work?
Whereas traditional phone numbers (i.e., landlines) are linked to a specific phone line and call using circuit transmission over the public switched telephone network (PSTN), VoIP uses the Internet to make calls and calls to a specific is not connected to the device.
The name literally means that it transmits voices using the Internet Protocol. How it works is complicated, but basically, a VoIP converts the analog signal from the phone into digital form so that the Internet can process it.
Although it has become more popular recently, VoIP has been around in some form or another since 1995. Since then, we have seen a huge increase in quality and speed with lower cost and more features.
Types of VoIP Systems
Although all VoIP systems use the same basic mechanism, there are a few different types.
The most basic VoIP phone system is a simple piece of software running through an Internet provider, giving you access to your virtual number from anywhere and through any device. It works just like software like Skype. It is ideal for individuals or small organizations as it is the simplest and cheapest option to set up. [Read related article: 4 Types of Phone Systems]
On-Premise VoIP Systems
Then there are on-premises VoIP systems, which take the technology used in traditional landlines and convert it into a VoIP version. This is the most complex and difficult to maintain, as companies must control and maintain everything themselves, but it can work for larger companies.
Cloud-Based VoIP Systems
An alternative to an on-premises system is a VoIP system hosted by a third party, which leases the solution, sets it up and maintains it when necessary. This gives the company less control over the system than an on-premises solution, but is much easier to handle and is therefore very popular.
You can also listen to hosted VoIP systems called cloud-based phone systems. Both the things are practically the same. When a VoIP system is hosted on the cloud, it means that an outside company maintains everything. For example, read our Nextiva review.
VoIP vs. Traditional Phone Numbers
What we consider to be a traditional business phone number is usually a landline: an analog phone system hosted by a local phone company that functions using a copper wiring infrastructure via PSTN.
For a company to have its own landline service (with features like multiple extensions and call transfers), it must have private branch exchange (PBX) hardware. A PBX system is expensive and complicated to maintain, but it offers important features such as call forwarding.
In contrast, VoIP phone systems run via the Internet. However, the results are largely the same: VoIP systems offer most of the features that were previously limited to PBX systems.
Now that you know the difference between the two, you are probably wondering whether a VoIP or a landline is better for your business. Let's review the details.
Advantages and disadvantages of traditional phone numbers
One advantage of traditional phone numbers is that they have been around for so long that everyone in the company will feel confident using them. And since they don't require the Internet to function, they are more reliable in areas where the Internet connection is slow or intermittent.
However, many phone system providers are now phasing out their landlines, which means you could run into problems in the future if you need to replace or repair it. Nobody wants to work with obsolete technology. In addition, they can be expensive and difficult to maintain, often requiring in-house IT staff.
Important achievements: Traditional phone lines are reliable when the Internet connection falters, but they are expensive and hard to maintain.
Advantages and Disadvantages of VoIP Numbers
One of the main advantages of VoIP systems is that they offer more sophisticated features at a much cheaper cost, including call routing and forwarding, extension dialing, and three-way calling (more on these later). This makes it easy for small businesses to look more professional and established, even if they can't afford an on-premises phone system.
They also offer more flexibility because you are not limited to a specific physical location or device when making VoIP calls. If you want to associate your business with a specific location or multiple locations, or want to avoid charges for long distance calls, you can also choose an area code outside your place of operation – a great Tool.
VoIP systems often provide better audio quality as well. As long as you have enough bandwidth for calls, VoIP can get rid of ambiguity and improve clarity. However, since VoIP systems require an internet connection, they are not the best option if your bandwidth is not up to snuff.
For VoIP systems that use PBX hardware, they are better for compliance because they give companies more control and therefore more security, but they can be very expensive and involve a lot of maintenance, so they are suitable for everyone. are not a realistic option for the company.
You are not limited to choosing between VoIP systems and traditional phone numbers. There are solutions in between.
Virtual phone numbers are another option. These essentially work by forwarding calls: the caller dials a landline number but is forwarded to a different number, usually belonging to a remote employee who answers the phone from his or her home. It helps the business to look more professional in less budget.
To find out which option is right for you, check out our guide to the best business phone systems.
did you know? You can have a hybrid of traditional phone systems and the best of both worlds with VoIP systems, which connect a standard phone line to a data network. Simply use the analog-to-VoIP adapter with your current phone.
how to get voip number
Depending on whether you want a hosted/cloud-based, software or in-house VoIP system, the way you set up your number will be different. Since in-house VoIP systems are a complex process that will require help from an in-house IT department, and a software VoIP is much simpler, we will focus here on cloud-based, or hosted, VoIP systems.
The first step is to choose a service plan. Some of the most popular are RingCentral, Intermedia Unite, and Dialpad. You have many other options, so make your choice wisely.
Tip: Learn more about some of the top business phone systems in our RingCentral review or our review of Dialpad phone systems.
To help you choose, look for features like:
- Related softphone apps
- call recording
- call queue
- call forwarding
- one-click conference call
- auto attendants
- tax free number
- Integration with chat and email
You may not need every single feature available, so make a list of the features you should have.
get your number
Once you choose a provider, it will give you a virtual number, which means you can choose the area or country code of your choice. This may take some time in special cases (such as if you choose a country code affiliated with a highly regulated nation). However, this will usually take only a few hours. You may also be able to connect an already existing phone number with your VoIP.
setting everything up
The final step in the process will depend on the provider you choose. Usually, you can just create your account online and set up your system with the features you want.
You also need to connect the devices you want to connect to the system. Are you happy to have just one phone, or do you want to connect multiple computers, tablets and devices?
As a last step, you will be able to verify that everything is working properly with a quick test. If anything goes wrong along the way, your provider should be able to help.
Tip: Make sure you have enough bandwidth before setting up a VoIP number. You can check this on your device or through a website like Speedtest.
Be aware of VoIP fraud
While VoIP systems can be a wonderful and convenient solution for businesses, they can also be a great tool for scammers, who use them to establish credibility with their victims. When scammers call someone using VoIP, they can appear like a legitimate organization (like a bank) rather than a random person from a random location.
No matter how legitimate the caller may seem at first glance, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If you have any doubts, say that you will call later and call the number directly. That way, you'll know who you're talking to, who you need to be.
It's also a smart idea to stay on top of the latest scam techniques and get the phone number directly from an official source (not via a text or email that you just received).
Tip: Make sure your customers are aware of VoIP fraud, and give them ways to identify when exactly you are calling them.
setting yourself up for success
Technology is making it easier than ever for small businesses to pose as larger, more established entities and have access to lower-cost versions of their equipment.
VoIP numbers are one example of many, and the best part is that the benefits don't end there. You will be able to take calls from anywhere in the world and much more. It is no surprise that a large number of businesses are getting involved.