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What Are VoIP Numbers And How Do They Work? (2024 Guide)

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With the 2025 Big Switch-Off getting close (when traditional landline lines will be replaced by digital technology in the UK), the VoIP market is increasing aggressively. According to a report by Nuacom, over 35% of all UK businesses have integrated some sort of VoIP services in their operations.

This is why it’s important to learn what a VoIP number is and how to get it for your business, as it can prove to be a beneficial replacement for a landline.

What are VoIP numbers?

A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) number is a telephone number that allows you to make phone calls over the internet instead of using a traditional landline. It can be used anywhere with internet access, making it highly effective for businesses with remote teams and offices in multiple locations.

The great thing about a VoIP number is you can manage calls without a desk phone or VoIP phone as well i.e. you need not be limited to the availability of a hardware-based phone. You can install the VoIP app on your computer, laptop and mobile phone to operate your VoIP number from there.

How to tell if a number is VoIP?

Well, it’s not that easy because a VoIP number looks exactly like any other landline phone number – regular 10-digit numbers displayed on the caller ID. But if you’re interested, there are a few techniques:

  • Search the number on an online VoIP number detection tool.
  • Carry out a reverse phone lookup through a reputable website like TrueCaller.
  • Contact your VoIP provider and tell them the number you want information about.

Let’s now look at how a VoIP number works.

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How does a VoIP number work?

A VoIP phone number works similarly to a regular phone number except that the signals are transmitted to a VoIP network instead of a landline network. When you dial a VoIP number, the audio signals are sent to the VoIP network.

The VoIP provider uses codecs to then send the data to the receiver side. Codecs are either software or hardware-based processes that compress and decompress large amounts of VoIP data. Sending this data reduces the bandwidth requirements and includes encapsulating them into data packets. When the data packets are received on the other end, they’re converted back into analogue or audio signals.

Types of VoIP number

There are 3 different types of VoIP numbers – local, toll-free and vanity.

Local VoIP number

It is assigned to a specific geographic location i.e. a specific city or state. A local number is particularly beneficial for a local business that operates in a specific market as it increases the recognisability among the customers/clients. Also, if your business is expanded to different locations, you can opt for multiple local numbers for each location.

Toll-free VoIP number

This is an 800 number, used by businesses to make it easier for their customers to call them. With a toll-free number, customers are not charged for calls when they contact you; instead, you bear the cost.

Vanity VoIP number

This number is customised to spell out a word or phrase related to your business e.g. 1-800-FLOWERS. This helps with the branding and makes the number easy to remember. But remember, vanity numbers may come at a high cost.

A non-fixed VoIP number is another type. It’s a virtual number that is not tied to any specific location. You can simply provide your email address, pay for the number and start using it right away.

Process of getting a VoIP number

Getting an IP phone number is a step-wise process.

  1. Choose a VoIP provider: Opt for a VoIP provider that has a good reputation in the market, provides budget-friendly packages and has commendable customer service.

  2. Choose the type of number: As mentioned above, you can choose between a local, vanity or toll-free VoIP number. Or you can port your existing landline number as well. In that case, you will get a VoIP number that is similar to your landline number and thus you will not lose any customers during the switch.

  3. Provide the details: This includes giving the VoIP provider your company name, address and contact number, etc.

  4. Configuring the app or number: If you want to run your VoIP number on a desk phone, you will have to configure it on that device (setting up a ring tone, voicemail, testing, etc.). If you wish to use it on your existing devices (laptop, for example), you will have to download the VoIP app and install it.

And then, start using it.

Cost of a VoIP number

The cost of a VoIP number is dependent on some factors:

  • Call volume: Although the call volumes are compensated for in the monthly packages (generally in the range of £10-£15), the excess international calls may incur extra charges.

  • Type of number: If you opt for a local number, it can be free or be available at a low rate of £5/month but toll-free and vanity numbers will come at higher rates.

  • Additional features: If you want features in addition to the provided package, you have to pay more. Advanced features like ring groups and automatic callbacks come with an extra price.

Advantages of a VoIP number

Benefits of a VoIP number include:

  • Low cost: The call rates of a VoIP service are generally lower than landline call rates. In fact, many VoIP providers offer unlimited local calls and affordable international calls in their packages.

  • Access for remote teams: Remote employees of a business can call on VoIP simply using their internet and stay connected with others for better productivity.

  • Portability: When compared with landline numbers, VoIP numbers can be used on any device (laptop or mobile phone) with an internet connection. This removes the limitation of managing calls from a fixed location.

  • Advanced features: VoIP service comes with additional features like analytics, AI call agent assistance, auto-respondent and integration with CRM applications.

Disadvantages of VoIP number

A few cons of IP phone numbers include:

  • Reliance on the internet: A VoIP number can not function without an internet connection. That means it can encounter complete failure in case of power outages if you don’t have a substitute.

  • No built-in emergency services: Since some VoIP numbers (non-fixed) are not tied to a specific location, you can not transfer your location when calling emergency services like 911. Even if you have a physical address linked to your number, calling on the go can result in emergency workers being sent to the wrong location.

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There are a few ways of finding the owner of a VoIP number. The most effective one is to do a reverse phone lookup where you insert the number into a dedicated app and it will show you the relevant information like the owner’s name and address.

Yes, the majority of VoIP providers have subscription-based packages where you’re charged a fixed monthly fee per user, just like a landline number. It varies from £10 – £30 generally. The package may also include additional features such as call forwarding and automatic callback.

  1. Choose a VoIP provider.
  2. Choose the type of number (tool-free, local, vanity or non-fixed).
  3. Fill in the details and get the number.
  4. Configure the number on your device.

Written by:

Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson is a seasoned business content writer, leveraging several years of experience to craft impactful narratives that seamlessly blend business insights with engaging storytelling across diverse industries. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences.