What is a Virtual Phone Number anyway ?

You may have heard the term ‘Virtual Phone Number’ but what the hell is it ? and where the hell is it ? and why the hell would I need one.

The term ‘virtual phone number’ refers to any phone number which is not tied to a physical phone line or premises. Of course that’s pretty vague, and what is a phone number if it’s not tied to phone line ? Hmm.. so we’re still a bit confused, so let’s get back to first principles.

What a phone number is:

What we commonly refer to as a phone number, is a number that’s part of the international public telecommunication numbering plan. The numbers are used for routing calls or messages through the phone network (what’s formally known as the PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network). An international standard sets the format so we can call each other from different countries. Each country has their own regulatory body which issues the numbers to Telecom providers, the Telecom providers in turn issue the numbers to subscribers, which were, until recently, directly connected to your telephone.

Why a phone has a number:

In the ‘old days’ all calls would be routed through the phone network using each digit of your phone number analysed sequentially, the last digits found your local exchange and the wire which was connected to your telephone.  This is why your neighbors phone used to be so similar, identical bar the last 3 or 4 digits.  This routing method worked fine, but with a caveat, phone numbers were tied to their local exchange.  As the telecommunications networks became more sophisticated,  more complex call routing was possible. Numbers no longer needed to be associated with local exchanges, you could take your number with you to a new premises:- What we call  number porting became possible.

In fact, local area codes are a legacy from old technology, phone networks can route calls without them (akin to the mobile network), but we keep them .. mostly for nostalgia I suppose.

Virtual numbers and where they go:

We’ve now arrived in the ephemeral world of the Internet, the lines blurring with telecommunications, services float in cyberspace clouds.  So the natural evolution of number porting is moving phone numbers into the cloud space too and giving subscribers have more control.

In physical terms Virtual numbers end up at a host exchange somewhere in a secure facility which has further intelligent routing capabilities (You’ll make a saving because you don’t rent copper wire to your premises). But in practical terms, Virtual numbers end up where the subscriber wants, no longer tied to a premises; they may be bridged to VoIP phones, mobiles, PBX’s, voicemail service or advanced call routing. And because virtual phone numbers don’t have that hard wiring you can have a Miami number in Middlesbrough or a Boston number in Bolton.

In summary Virtual Numbers are REAL phone numbers, they work just like other regular phone numbers (the callers don’t know any different). They may or may not be connected to a real phone, that’s up to you, you’re the subscriber, you’re in control:-  That’s the beauty of virtual numbers. 

Click here if you’re Interested in a UK or International virtual number


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