IP telephony is Internet Protocol telephony that encompasses all the services such as voice call, fax, and other forms of information over the packet switched network provided by IP service providers. These were traditionally transferred over the circuit switched network of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) which had many discrepancies because a path had to be set for communication and many disturbances occurred in between. The tolls of PSTN can be avoided as the data travels as packets on shared lines. But the challenge of IP telephony occurs when the flow of data as specified by the user does not reach the other user in the same flow. A virtual online number is routes calls to the user’s actual phone number and acts as an intermediate telephone number. Long distance charges incurred by users in IP telephony can be bypassed with the use of virtual numbers.

About virtual numbers and their uses

·         The use of virtual numbers is unique. It enables a user present in a region with a specified area code call an IP telephony present in a region with another specified area code at the prices of a local call. This is beneficial for users who make frequent long-distance calls.

·         A voice over IP (VoIP) customer can conveniently buy a virtual number from their service provider and a virtual phone number is assigned to them. When another user calls this number, then it registers as a local call and routes to the actual phone number of the customer seamlessly. Sometimes, the VoIP service provider charges a small monthly fee for each virtual number.

·         Virtual numbers are also used for ‘find me/follow me’ services. The virtual number is traced among a sea of phone numbers at various locations when a call or request is placed.

·         Historically, every physical location had a phone number assigned to it. The service provider would provide a single physical line for communication and the phone call would be dropped at the location it was assigned to. The calls would be received by businesses after a lot of deliberation through expensive PBX systems with routing smarts, voicemail applications, and IVRs. Virtual numbers have removed this tedious and expensive method by eradicating the physical limitation. A phone number can be used by a company in a more flexible manner with no dependency on physical telephone systems. The phone calls are handled and forwarded according to user defined notions by a proxy.

·         A business reduces costs as there is no requirement for on-site telco equipment, telco space, and phone lines. There can be unhindered contact with multiple locations and a connection can be established between them. These phone receptions can be maintained at the times when there is damage to physical offices due to disasters or shifting of business premises. All this is achieved at a low cost.

·         Some companies have multiple departments that are coordinated overseas. However, customers are given only one number for enquiries and contact purposes. The customer is offered a menu and the selection of choices directs the call appropriately. This is how virtual numbers help in keeping the business afloat.