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Virtual Numbers: The Future of Business Phones

by Imogen Rees

A virtual number is a telephone number without a directly associated telephone line. These numbers are programmed to forward incoming calls to one of the pre-set telephone numbers, chosen by the client: fixed, mobile or VoIP.

Virtual numbers are programmed to forward incoming calls to a pre-set telephone number, chosen by the client: fixed, mobile or VoIP.

Virtual numbers fall into two categories; geographic and non-geographic. The difference between these is the dialling code, one is location-specific whereas the other is nationwide.

Geographic Virtual Numbers

Geographic numbers use an area code to form the first half of the number – due to the virtual nature, a business does not have to operate in that location to be able to use the area’s number.

A local number is useful for businesses operating from a premise. Even if your business works from offices or home, having a local number cements your position in that community and helps you to build trust among your audience in that area and authority among competing businesses.

Virtual numbers are used by small or medium-sized businesses wanting to strengthen their presence; therefore, they may use an 0161-area code for Manchester or an 020-area code for London. These dialling codes enable a business to appear more established to consumers and competitors in that location.

Geographic numbers do not carry any extra charges for customers calling from mobile phones. This removes a potential barrier for doing business, which is a real benefit.

Non – Geographic Virtual Numbers

Non-geographic virtual numbers have no exact location linked to them. These numbers are also used by smaller businesses to appear as though they have a national presence. For example, these numbers usually start with 0800 or 0300. Numbers starting in this way are instantly recognisable to the audience in that country.

0300 numbers are typically a cheaper alternative to 0800 numbers. This is because 0800 is a free number – the caller does not get charges minutes when dialling into an 0800 number, the receiving business picks up the cost of the redirected call. Despite being cheaper to acquire, 0300 numbers are still a recognised dialling code but ultimately, are a low-cost alternative for a business to use because these calls are charged at the local rate and can be included within your free minutes.

How can virtual numbers benefit businesses?

Call management is simple with virtual phone numbers in the easy-to-navigate portal. Manage calls, redirect numbers and see where your calls are coming from in the portal.

Traditional landlines are failing fast in the landline vs VoIP battle. With the PSTN switch off approaching in 2025, their demise is likely sooner than anticipated. One of the many reasons for this is the flexibility of a virtual number. It has become effortless to integrate a virtual number onto many modern business devices. No longer are landline phones the easiest way to communicate, with mobiles, laptops and desktops able to incorporate a virtual number. This has allowed businesses to be flexible in their work environment. Employees do not need to sit by a phone, a virtual number receives calls through their chosen device and can be redirected whilst on the move.

Virtual numbers also assist with the shift towards favouring a more hybrid approach to working. Virtual numbers can be redirected for a cheaper price, and as there is no installation fee, migrating to a virtual number is an attractive move for business.

PSTN Switch-off

In 2025 the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) switch-off will take full effect, impacting homes and businesses across the UK. Post-2025, every phone line in the UK will be digital and will route calls over IP (Internet Protocol) rather than the traditional PSTN. From September 2023, businesses will no longer be able to purchase any ISDN and PSTN-based solutions, and from 2025, BT Openreach will shut PSTN down completely.

A virtual phone line will mitigate this as there is no need for physical lines.  As copper lines become dormant, many businesses that do not use a VoIP system will experience their phone lines and potentially internet lines becoming outdated.  A virtual phone number eliminates the need for these copper lines, making virtual numbers a secure investment for the future.

 

At UK IT Networks, our Inbound geographic and non-geographic numbers have unlimited call plans and you can access your numbers from anywhere using our user-friendly portal. For those customers wanting to migrate early and beat the switch-off rush,  speak to a member of our team today by calling 0344 326 2150 or email enquiries@ukitnetworks.com.

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