Phone numbers started simply with landlines and addresses. Then came cellular phones with SIM cards to store contacts. Finally, technology has introduced a new form of contact numbers into the playing ground - virtual numbers.
In this article, we'll look separately at traditional and virtual numbers and gain a clearer understanding of each of them. What are they? How do we get them? Who do we get them from? How will it help my business?
We'll ask these questions as we compare the differences between traditional and virtual numbers.
Regular Phone Numbers
We are all familiar with and use regular or traditional phone numbers daily. But are we familiar with a regular or a traditional phone number? First, let's define a traditional phone number.
What is a Regular Phone Number?
Regular phone numbers are also known as traditional ones to distinguish them from virtual ones later introduced.
A traditional phone number is the phone number that most of us use in our everyday routine. They are linked to our landlines, cellular phones, or mobile devices. Traditional phone numbers require a physical connection to function. That comes in the form of phone lines or a sim card.
There are mainly four types of regular phone numbers:
- Geographic or Local
A geographic or local number is a phone number that uses a digit structure associated with a particular city or region. They possess an area code identifying them to a particular city. For example, "203" is a London area code.
Mobile phone numbers are used in cellular phones, as the name suggests. They are linked to a SIM card. Mobile numbers are generally capable of sending and receiving SMS aside from calls.
National numbers are phone numbers not tied to a specific area or region. These numbers belong to a specific country. For example, Denmark only uses national numbers. Businesses typically use a national phone number.
A toll-free phone number is a number that is free to call, provided the call is made within its designated country. Toll-free number fees are carried by the company receiving the call. Most people still prefer to use regular or traditional phone numbers for personal and business use.
Regular phone numbers are simple and easy to set up. They are straightforward - you purchase a phone and SIM card or set up a landline, then you're ready to initiate and receive calls. A regular phone number is easy to use as it only contains basic features such as calls and SMS, although smartphone apps may expand on that aspect.
Another common reason why there are more regular numbers of users is that many people still need to be made aware of the alternative. Virtual numbers are yet to be widely popularized. Older people especially may not be aware of them. You could be using a virtual number in some form but still not know it's virtual.
With most people relying on landlines and mobile phones to communicate, regular numbers remain the more widely used.
Where to Acquire a Traditional Phone Number
You can get a traditional phone number in two forms - through mobile or landline. A landline uses physical lines to connect, while a mobile number relies on a SIM card inserted into a phone or tablet.
Acquiring either of the two is quite simple to do. Here's how:
The most common way people get a landline is by taking over an existing one. That applies to people staying as tenants in a home or rented space.
All you need to do first-timers is contact your local phone company. They will then visit your space and install the landline and possibly an internet connection, as many landlines nowadays are bundled with an internet connection. For your telephone, you can easily purchase one from a store if not provided by the company. You may have to pay an installation fee for the services rendered.
The setup period differs for every carrier but typically takes only a few days. Phone bills are generally charged every month. If you cannot get credit, you may have to pay a deposit of one month or two, after which it earns interest and is repaid when you diligently pay your bills.
Mobile numbers are acquired by having a SIM card. SIM cards can be purchased from stores. These SIM cards automatically come with their designated phone numbers. After purchasing your SIM, you only need to insert it into the SIM card slot of your cell phone or tablet to get started.
SIMs come in two forms - postpaid and prepaid. A postpaid card works with a subscription plan and an accompanying package. Excess use triggers additional charges. Postpaid plans are usually billed monthly. On the other hand, prepaid cards are billed less and only need to be recharged as needed. The downside is that when you run out of load or data, you cannot send messages, make calls, or access the Internet.
Popular Carriers of Regular Phone Numbers
There are many US companies where you can get a regular phone number, whether a landline or mobile. Below we'll highlight famous examples of service providers for landline and cellular phone numbers.
Spectrum offers only a bundled subscription for landline and Internet, starting at $14.99 monthly, and only an additional $5 monthly for international calls. While it's on the pricier end, you can expect crisp and high-quality calls, unlimited around the US.
AT&T's landline service starts at $39 monthly and offers different packages and rates. It includes an internet subscription, traditional home phone service, and features like caller ID and calls forwarding.
It is also one of the biggest SIM card carriers in the US. AT&T is one of the most expensive options but also delivers excellent speeds, extensive coverage, and a comprehensive device selection option.
Verizon's landline offers a 5G Start package at $35, while other advanced packages are $45. It can be integrated with smartphones and offers an 8-hour backup battery in case of local power failures. Verizon gives more freedom to consumers as you can choose between per-minute or packaged rates.
Verizon Wireless is one of the largest SIM carriers in the country. It also offers the fastest internet connectivity, downloading as fast as 11 Mbps. Verizon Wireless is set at a non-refundable contract service and is quite expensive, but it assures nationwide coverage, superior speeds, and overall service reliability.
Frontier starts at $74.99 with a bundled phone and internet service. It boasts a 99.99% network availability and includes features like blocking robocalls, secure messages, and voice call apps. Frontier does not require a contract, so it's easy to exit anytime.
MetroPCS is a prepaid SIM carrier that boasts one of the fastest data speeds in the US. At $35, you can start with a plan with unlimited calls, text, and limited data. It also has a plan for unlimited data. There are, however, trim device options compared to other SIM carriers.
Sprint is one of the biggest in the US and is unique because it offers an unlimited 4G feature. It has a slower data speed than other carriers and more limited network coverage. However, it is popular due to its total 4G and very affordable rates.
T-Mobile is an ideal choice for city dwellers due to its aggressively affordable prices, unlimited text, call, and data combined with superior speeds. It also offers a wide device selection. The downside is that its rural coverage is still due for more improvement.
Virtual Phone Numbers
A new and innovative method of communication incorporates the Internet to connect people and businesses. Virtual phone numbers are a viable communication option, especially for businesses. That is because virtual phone numbers also carry many features that regular phone numbers do not usually have.
What are Virtual Phone Numbers?
A virtual phone number is a number that does not require a physical connection to function. It doesn't need phone lines or a SIM card for you to use it. Instead, it relies on an internet connection to work. A virtual number is versatile because it can be used with a laptop or desktop computer.
So how does a virtual phone number work? A virtual number works with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system whose function is to take voice signals, convert them to digital, and then transport them through internet lines. With a VoIP system, you can easily make audio and video calls from anywhere worldwide with a secure internet connection.
Just like physical phone numbers, virtual numbers can come in the form of landline, mobile, and toll-free numbers. Whatever functions their regular counterparts have, virtual numbers can also accomplish. They have additional capabilities such as voicemail, web integration, call routing, and automated messages.
A vanity number is a virtual number that you can customize. Unlike regular numbers that are only composed of numerical digits, a vanity number can spell out a word with letters. That is useful for businesses that want to create awareness for their brand and make their numbers easy to memorize. Vanity numbers can be local or toll-free.
Where to Acquire a Virtual Number
Virtual numbers can be acquired by downloading and subscribing to a program or app or by contacting a virtual number service provider.
First, you will need to determine what kind of number is suited for your business. After that, you will then select your phone number. The advantage of virtual numbers is that most of them let you select the phone number you'll be using. This is especially useful for businesses that opt for vanity numbers, which lets them customize numbers that will be easy to remember and associate with their brand.
After choosing a number, you can sign up for the service and select an applicable package. Determining the services you need before selecting a package is essential to ensure you get your money's worth. These are the standard services you can get from a virtual number:
- Call routing
- Call recording
- Inbound and outbound calls
- SMS and MMS messaging
- IVR support
Once you've set up your phone number service, you can access its dashboard, customize your settings, messages, and team, and integrate the services with your operations.
Popular Service Providers
There are many service providers where you can acquire a virtual number. You can even find services that offer a free virtual number, but the features that come with it are limited. You can also find pricier options with a large arsenal of tools that can be helpful with your work or business. Here are some examples of the best virtual number services in the market:
RingCentral works best with call centers and remote agencies due to its superior call features. It offers unlimited calls and SMS, team messaging, and video conferencing. RingCentral offers a free trial.
Ooma lets you choose between local and toll-free numbers and offers 35 services ideal for small business needs. That includes voicemail, advanced call routing, and call recording.
Nextiva is an affordable business phone system with a CRM framework compatible with small businesses. It offers call forwarding, auto attendant, and call queuing and even allows you to use your existing phone number as a virtual one.
Phone.com is a good business phone option for startups and small businesses and even offers lower call rates for calls to Canada and some European countries. It is also one of the services that let you customize vanity numbers. If you have a small customer base, Phone.com lets you pay per minute.
Google Voice is an ideal starting point because you start free when it's for personal use. Its budget-friendly packages include extensions, call routing, and call analytics.
eVoice offers international phone coverage and a business phone number system. You can avail of call management tools, conference calling, and a virtual receptionist for an affordable price.
LimePhone is a versatile virtual phone service that lets you access virtual numbers and its services on many devices like landlines, mobile, computers, and softphones. It offers unlimited SMS and calls for an affordable fee and offers call routing, analytics, voicemail, SIP forwarding, and web integration. LimePhone offers a free trial for new users.
Regular vs. Virtual Phone Numbers
Regular and virtual numbers have many similarities but differ vastly in function and pricing. How can you tell if a number is a virtual phone number? Let's take a look at the distinctions between them.
Comparing Regular and Virtual Numbers:
- Virtual and regular phone numbers are both used to communicate. They can exchange SMS and MMS and make or receive phone calls.
- Both types use numbers in the form of local, mobile, and toll-free numbers. Virtual numbers let you customize vanity numbers.
- Regular phone numbers rely on physical devices like phone lines and SIM cards to establish connectivity, while virtual numbers rely on an internet connection.
- Virtual numbers can cost more initial investment, but they have a more extensive array of services suited for small business use. The capability to automate communication and lower rates for more significant transactions can also save you more money in the long run.
Try Out a Virtual Number Free on LimePhone
Enjoy a vast arsenal of small business tools with LimePhone, a versatile approach to communication. Reach customers and suppliers with high-quality and unlimited calls and SMS, whether using your landline, smartphone, laptop, or softphone.
LimePhone lets you take your business to the next level with call routing/forwarding, call analytics, automatic feedback collection, automated messages, voicemails, SIP forwarding, call recording, voicemail transcription, and many more. Integrate your virtual number to your website and other platforms like Facebook, Slack, Zapier, Hubspot, and Intercom.
How do you get a free virtual number to try out? Go to the website and provide your contact details to access a free trial courtesy of LimePhone.
- Can you get a virtual number for free?
- You can get a free virtual number when you use a free trial or use a service with a free number with only essential services.
- What is a private number?
- A private phone number blocks the user's phone number from being shown on the caller ID.
- Can a virtual number make a call anywhere?
- Virtual numbers can call anywhere as long as they have a stable internet connection.
Focusing on goals and priorities is essential as our options grow with experience and innovation. Traditional and virtual phone numbers have their characteristics, pros, and cons. Understanding your business needs will help you decide which will work best for your company. And with a free trial available like LimePhone, you can freely test the waters to help you with your decision-making process.