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What Is a VoIP Number & How Does It Work?

The hottest technology on the market today for business and personal use is coming straight out of the VoIP and virtual phone sectors. Cloud-based VoIP technology lets you call from anywhere using a cell phone, computer, laptop, or desk phone using the same number.

Let’s look at what is a VoIP number and how you can get one. We’ll also discuss how to get VoIP services started and five VoIP fraud alerts that will protect your business. A VoIP number can also save you a ton of money that conventional landlines can’t.

What Is a Voice Over IP Phone Number?

A VoIP number, also known as Voice over IP number, is a real telephone number assigned to a user, but not to a specific phone line. A virtual phone number is referred to as an extension, and it may have a Direct Inward Dial (DID) phone number accessible to the public.

Need some more context? Check out this quick two-minute video of Tony from Nextiva explaining VoIP phone numbers.

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP works by placing calls over the internet. Unlike traditional phone service, where calls must be routed through the local telephone company, VoIP phone service uses any broadband connection. With this method, VoIP routes a call along the most efficient path.

VoIP also extends to other forms of communication, like chat and text messaging. A business owner can select VoIP phone numbers for its staff, even if they work remotely.

With VoIP, a traditional phone line becomes obsolete for both business and residential use.

The Difference Between VoIP and Regular Phone Numbers

The mode of transmission between the two technologies is not the same. A VoIP phone number does not get assigned to a location, while a regular phone number does.

Also, the underlying technologies are dramatically different. A standard landline number travels through copper phone lines. A VoIP number utilizes data networks, such as the internet and internal enterprise LANs (Local Area Networks) to make calls.

How Do I Get a VoIP Number?

A VoIP phone service provider helps you get a VoIP number when you sign up for a VoIP service plan. Most plans are less expensive than a cellphone or regular telephone service.

As a result, you can lower your costs by up to 60% and access many more features that only VoIP can provide.

It’s likely you already have existing phone numbers. You can use them with VoIP. It’s your right to do so, backed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). You have the right to transfer your phone service to any carrier through a process known as number porting. You can port phone numbers from your cell phone, Google Voice, cable/telephone company, and even a competitive VoIP service provider.

You can select new numbers or use your existing ones. It’s up to you. Nextiva provides porting and setup at no extra charge on every plan. Nextiva’s business phone service plans start at $20/month.

How to Get VoIP Phone Service

If it’s time to switch over and get VoIP phone service, there are a handful of steps you’ll need to take to set up your virtual phone system. First, you must check and make sure you have a good internet connection.

five steps to switch to VoIP

You’ll then need to choose the VoIP subscription that fits your business needs, confirm your VoIP phone numbers, and select optional VoIP devices. Once that’s done, you can begin using your VoIP system on your computer or smartphone right away.

Why Should I Get a VoIP Number?

A VoIP phone system brings several advantages that conventional phone services cannot provide. You’ll find savings, greater flexibility, increased reliability, and crystal-clear call quality.

Lower Cost

Without the use of a phone line, VoIP numbers utilize your internet connection. Even with the monthly service, the expense is less than maintaining a traditional phone system.

You also get access to a ton of premium features included with the monthly rate. This includes all the favorite features your business needs, such as an auto-attendant, call queuing, intelligent call forwarding, and one-click conference calls. Plus, you can even get a toll-free VoIP number at no extra charge.

More Accessible

A VoIP phone system does not rely on a physical location to make calls. Its convenience comes from a stable internet connection. This makes communication possible across the country or halfway around the world.

illustration of VoIP capabilities around the world

VoIP itself doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth. Even a modest 10MB connection can handle 100 calls simultaneously. With the advances in LTE technology, you can use your smartphone to place and receive calls reliably.

Wired connections are best, but you should be quite satisfied when you have a strong Wi-Fi signal.

More Flexibility

A VoIP network has a vast amount of flexibility. When using a private, internal phone network, adding multiple phones to an existing system is limited. With a VoIP network, you are only limited by your bandwidth, which allows you to handle hundreds of calls using many popular broadband plans

Another way VoIP phones are flexible is their ability to operate with any device. They’ll work with computers, tablets, and VoIP phones. Most VoIP phones offer accessories to complement your workflow, such as corded or wireless headsets. If you have a traditional telephone, you can’t do without, you can always retrofit it with an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA).

An ATA lets you use traditional telephone equipment on an all-digital VoIP network. Once you set it up, it just works.

Better Voice Quality

With a stable internet connection and high bandwidth, voice quality would be better than a traditional phone connection. How is this possible?

VoIP uses the latest sound compression technology known as “codecs” to digitally convert sound, eliminate fuzziness and static in the line, and send it over the internet. The G.722 codec has twice the bandwidth of an analog phone call, which means more clarity in every call. This is how VoIP delivers HD call quality.

In the rare moments of limited bandwidth, the call gracefully lowers to standard quality without any involvement on your part. It does it automatically. And if you call someone on the traditional phone system, the call will still sound great, but it might not be in full HD.

Multiple Devices

One of the best benefits is to use multiple devices on a single virtual number. With the VoIP number assigned to a person, not a location, they can take that number anywhere and access their account from any device.

Once they’ve logged in, they can use a personal or company laptop, computer, or cell phone that is VoIP compatible to make calls. These virtual numbers can also be set to forward calls to different telephone numbers if the user chooses.

Don’t forget that with VoIP, you can always configure the call routing any way you want. If you have a sales team you want to send incoming calls, all or some of their phones can ring at once.

The ability to use multiple devices with one telephone number gives the user the ultimate flexibility.

We just wrote a MASSIVE guide on VoIP Conference Phones!
10 Slick choices for you.

Choice of Area Codes

Unlike conventional phones, you can choose an area code for your VoIP phone number outside of your city or state. This feature allows an individual or business owner to make calls to an area code of their choosing and not get charged for a long-distance call.

abstract illustration of lady taking her number anywhere

This also means that a business owner can assign themselves a local number to establish credibility. This can be helpful for businesses that have more than one location. It can also be useful for those who would like several local numbers to route to one location.

However, if the area code that is assigned to the phone is for one specific city, like Los Angeles, but the VoIP phone is in New York, then you’re effectively placing calls from Los Angeles. Location of where you place calls is no longer an issue.

Number Portability

Phones are no longer stationary. In the past, if you moved, the telephone company got called to update the new number at the new location. Most of the time, a service technician had to come out to set up the new phones.

However, VoIP number portability is another option, saving any business owner unnecessary downtime. Regardless of the location, the VoIP phone can still use the same phone number. All that is needed is reliable IP connectivity.

Number portability means there is no need to change the phone number if a business chooses to use VoIP service. There is no need to make changes to the website, business cards, or marketing materials. Move over your old number and continue operating as usual!

Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free calling is no longer just for large enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses can now receive toll-free calls with the use of VoIP numbers. While it varies from provider to provider, most will provide either free or very inexpensive toll-free calling.

Toll-free calling can help a business by eliminating the appearance that they are limited to one geographic area. Best of all, since you can have multiple VoIP numbers ring on multiple devices, these toll-free calls can be routed to your phone or computer.

Thinking about Nextiva? Our customers are thinking out loud here >>

How to Protect Against VoIP Fraud

Even though VoIP technology is easy to use and inexpensive to maintain, this modern-day business phone solution is not immune to fraud.

The problem with these kinds of VoIP number tricks is the difficulty in tracing the call. If you do not know what to look for or expect from a VoIP scammer, you too may become a victim of VoIP fraud.

Look for a VoIP provider that provides call encryption through TLS and SRTP. This provides you the maximum privacy and performance in every VoIP call. Nextiva offers this built-in call encryption, so be sure to ask about it.

Vishing (VoIP Phishing)

Known as “voice phishing” or “VoIP phishing,” it’s a type of phone scam. The fraud begins with the appearance of a real caller ID displayed with a valid telephone number from a recognized and trusted source.

Then the scammer attempts to convince the unsuspecting individual to disclose critical personal data and financial information.

abstract VoIP and scam imagery

Often, the callers will prey on two key factors to gain the information they need: a person’s fear and financial stability. This scam is more successful because people generally trust caller ID without knowing it can be faked.

How to Protect Yourself From VoIP Fraud Attacks

VoIP phone fraud attacks are sophisticated, which makes it challenging to recognize legitimate calls and attempts at theft. Below are a few tips you can develop to protect yourself from these intrusions:

  • Never assume every call comes with good intentions and stay up to date on the latest scams
  • Don’t give your confidential information over the phone unless you initiate the call
  • Cybersecurity experts suggest changing your login details for all devices once a month
  • Never call phone numbers from unsolicited emails sent to you
  • If there is any doubt who is calling, let the caller leave a message at your voicemail

The good news is that successful VoIP fraud attacks are rare. You must be vigilant against the threat, otherwise you could inadvertently leak your customer list.

Want to dig deeper? We’ve authored the complete guide to VoIP security and call encryption. It’s well worth a read — share it with your team.

Get more value from your VoIP phone system

No matter what numbers you choose, you’re getting incredible value with VoIP. Telephone and cable companies can’t beat all the features and capabilities that VoIP provides for business owners.

And it’s more than the price that matters. Pick up the phone and call the support line. How long do you wait on hold? How knowledgeable and friendly is the staff? Those factors are important because you don’t have all day to worry about your phone system.

Nextiva goes further. We crafted our business phone service around giving you the best value and the best service. We invested millions into building the nation’s most reliable business voice network and our support team members are all in-house. That’s why we were named the best business phone service in 2020.

But don’t just take our word for it, read some of our real customer reviews to see what they think of our service.

About the author

Yaniv Masjedi serves as Nextiva's CMO. An avid reader and lover of all things marketing, leadership, and personal growth, Yaniv is obsessed with creating strategies that drive awareness, strengthen brands, and create customer-centric culture. To get in touch, follow Yaniv on LinkedIn.