A virtual phone number is a telephone number used to route calls to the user's actual phone number or numbers. Virtual phone numbers are often used to enable long distance service without incurring long distance charges. A virtual phone number makes it possible for someone within a specified area code call an IP telephony user in another area code as if it were a local call.
As a business owner, having a virtual number enables you to have a local presence in a market without having an actual location there. For personal use, an online phone number allows you to have a local or toll-free number for your friends and family to call if they need to get a hold of you even if you live across the country. In both cases, having a virtual number gives you the opportunity to have a telephone presence anywhere in the world without having to be there physically.
Virtual phone numbers work by utilizing your existing telephone line, which can be a landline, cellular network, or both. In a way, they work similar to e-mail addresses. And just as you can direct all of your e-mail addresses to one point, a virtual phone number enables you to link up to your primary number, from where you can respond to the call as you see fit. Virtual numbers use Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to complete their calls and therefore require a broadband connection.
In addition to telephone service, virtual numbers offer advanced cloud-based communication features including routing phone calls and answering rules that control inbound calls as your schedule changes. Virtual number service providers also enable you to ask for extensions to your Virtual Number. This enables a company to allow a single number to be used while still being able to get in touch with any of the extensions that they have listed with them. These extensions can be in different locations, but as far as the customer or client calling you up is concerned, you may virtually be in the same building. Virtual number service providers would also have an auto receptionist who will automatically ask you for the extension you require or forward your call to a number designated by you. The flexibility and additional features of virtual phone numbers is their primary advantage.
International virtual phone numbers are also available. These work in the same way as domestic virtual numbers. All international incoming calls are free and can be forwarded to an automated attendant, your landline phone, or cell phone. This is a great option for businesses who are active players in the global market.
As with any VoIP technology, there are some drawbacks as well. VoIP is dependent on a stable power source so if you are using it to route calls to your phone and the power goes out, the routing function might not work. In addition to being dependent on a power source, VoIP technology also requires a stable Internet connection. If the Internet connection is unstable, you run the risk of missing calls much like if the power is unstable.