Fixed & Non-Fixed VoIP: Everything You Need to Know

December 30, 2019 | 6 min read

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As a part of your research into phone service for your business, you will want to understand the differences between fixed VoIP and non-fixed VoIP phone numbers.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a proven technology to lower communication costs and call anyone around the world. One question that comes up in research is the difference between fixed and non-fixed VoIP phone numbers.
There are many differences you need to know. Depending on which VoIP phone service you have, it influences whether people answer your calls, and it could impact the speed of reaching public safety services.
In this guide, we’ll help you spot these differences. You’ll learn how to get the right VoIP numbers to improve your VoIP phone system.
Let’s dive in:

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) works by placing calls through the internet. VoIP calls are converted into data packets and sent over an IP network. There’s no physical phone line needed. All you need is an internet connection.
When you do this, the person you’re calling will see your VoIP number. This happens thanks to CNAM (Caller Name Delivery), which is a component of caller ID. Caller ID passes your information to the phone service provider of the number you called.
Since your VoIP phone number is hosted in the cloud, the information in your caller ID varies. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of fixed VoIP and non-fixed VoIP. They both impact the way your calls are received.
Furthermore, there’s been a rise in robocalls in the U.S. — they have more than doubled since 2016! Unfortunately, many of these services use VoIP technology to conceal the true identity of callers.

You don’t want your potential and existing customers to avoid answering their phone when you’re calling. This is where choosing the right VoIP number option helps.
Related: VoIP FAQ: 65 Questions & Answers About All Things VoIP

What is a Fixed VoIP Phone Number?

Simply put, a fixed VoIP phone number is attached to a physical address. Make no mistake, it’s still an internet-based phone line. It simply has an account owner and a real address assigned to it.
This address can be a residential one or a company’s office. VoIP numbers can easily be moved through a process known as porting.
All of this makes fixed VoIP numbers more reputable and accepted. It means they’re less likely to be used by fraudsters and scammers because it’s harder to mask their identity.
Fixed VoIP numbers make the subscriber location match the user of the phone. How many of your potential or current customers in your area answer your calls? This means that your local call recipients will feel more inclined to answer your calls.
Finally, fixed VoIP numbers send the exact locations to the public safety answering points (PSAPs), meaning that a call to 911 can be traced.
Want to see how others see your telephone number? You can check it here.

Auto attendant? Call Queuing? SIP? Learn about popular
VoIP features your business needs.

What is a Non-Fixed VoIP Phone Number?

A non-fixed VoIP phone number isn’t attached to a physical address. It’s also known as a virtual phone number. Just like fixed VoIP numbers, it can be used as a residential or business phone number, but it’s rarely a replacement for the complete phone system.
Because they don’t require a fixed address, non-fixed VoIP numbers can be associated with any geographical location. It means they’re a great solution for serving customers in areas where you don’t have a physical location.
With non-fixed VoIP, you don’t need to have an address to have a number that matches it. It’s excellent for remote teams and global communications. For instance, if you have a call center or a team that works from home.
Non-fixed VoIP numbers are easier to get, and they’re often issued by free and low-cost services like Google Voice and Skype. This means they’re a popular solution for fraudulent activity and scams.
With a non-fixed option, it’s crucial to keep in mind that it should be your last resort in case of an emergency. Phone calls to 911 from a non-fixed number aren’t easily traceable. If you choose this option, make this limitation clear.
Related: What Is a VoIP Number? How Does It Work & How Do I Get One?

Comparison of Fixed VoIP and Non-Fixed VoIP

First, let’s have a look at what fixed and non-fixed VoIP numbers have in common:

  • Relying on an internet-based phone line
  • Same VoIP phones and devices
  • Same VoIP benefits, like lower cost and ease of use
  • Can be configured to send and receive text messages

Fixed VoIP specifics

Fixed VoIP means a physical address is necessary. If your company is well established in your location(s) and serves local customers, that’s no issue. In fact, it’s an advantage. It makes your presence there authentic.
However, if you have customers globally, fixed VoIP numbers make it hard to build a presence where your customers are if you don’t have an address near them.
There’s no way around this if you choose the fixed route. This is why VoIP phone services are rarely entirely fixed unless the service is provided by a local phone company known as a Local Exchange Carrier (LEC).
Another downside is the cost you’ll incur for long-distance and international calls.

Non-fixed VoIP specifics

Non-fixed VoIP is an ideal solution when you need a local number, but don’t have a local presence. For example, you’re in the U.S., but also have Canadian customers, or elsewhere.
If you have a distributed workforce, you can make sure each person’s individual phone number, known in the industry as Direct Inward Dialing (DID) number matches your company’s format. This ensures everyone has a direct number relevant to the location they serve, without needing multiple physical phone lines.
Depending on the provider you choose, you can also get unlimited calling and features like call recording, voicemail, queuing, and conferencing calling.

Although non-fixed VoIP numbers are often the solution of choice for fraud, there’s consistent progress in systems that counteract it. This gives non-fixed VoIP a better reputation and opens its doors for businesses even more.
Even if you have a non-fixed VoIP number, register it through free business directories like Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places. At a minimum, this will at least display your company information when people search for your phone number.
Some phone apps match your phone number to your business information found online, which improves the rate at which people answer the phone.
Related: Ready for VoIP? Advantages and Disadvantages to Make the Right Choice

Types of VoIP Services

Wondering how to get your hands on a VoIP solution? Here are three standard options.
Business phone service – This is an end-to-end solution that gives you high-quality phone calls at a lower cost. It’s completely portable, scalable, and offers international calling. It hosts all of your communications, from audio and video calls to live chat and even a CRM.
SIP trunking – You can take your PBX equipment into a cloud system without new equipment or service disruptions. Your calls no longer use traditional phone lines, but rely on your internet connection. It gives you advanced multi-line phone system features and centralizes your voice and data in one place.
Call center software – Running a call center in the cloud means you can make it more productive. It lets you handle higher call volumes and automate multichannel customer support, as well as offer self-service options. The best part is, SaaS solutions are hosted entirely in the cloud without any difficult setup. You don’t even need desk phones—calls can be made from your computer with a VoIP app.

Non-Fixed VoIP is Better

Despite the nuances of non-fixed virtual phone numbers, most of its limitations have been addressed. Your needs as a VoIP user will help you determine your best choice based on what we’ve outlined in this guide.
Thanks to secure internet services, free-market data warehouses, and frequent updates of the CNAM, concerns with non-fixed VoIP numbers are put to rest.
However, VoIP phone numbers certainly affect your ability to reach public safety services in a timely manner — make sure to train your staff to use their cell phones instead.
It all comes down to choosing the right VoIP provider. Look for the one with great customer service and an excellent track record. Ask questions about everything you need so you can set up your phone system with ease!

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Julie Bai


Julie Bai

Julie Bai was a product manager at Nextiva, UCaaS evangelist, no-bull communicator, and translator for people, dog lover, and mother to an adorably active boy.

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