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What is a Virtual Phone Number?

Virtual phone numbers are numbers that, when dialed, are not linked to a direct line, but to a forwarding service that routes the call to a predetermined number or numbers. There are many benefits to a business in acquiring a virtual phone number, especially for companies that do business internationally.

No Local Call Centers

In order to have physical call centers situated in the geographical regions where the firm does business, that firm would need significant resources to invest in labor, licensing, technical infrastructure and the structure itself. A virtual number, however, alleviates the need for a call center. It can simply use a local number (or toll-free number) as its virtual number, and — without the knowledge of the person making the call — route that call to a centralized call center or individual phone line in any region or country that the business chooses.

Reduced Logistical Hurdles

When doing business overseas, companies discover that some countries — specifically some developing countries in emerging markets — have insurmountable logistical and infrastructure barriers. Some countries have aging, dilapidated or outdated infrastructure. They may also have phone lines, Internet services and electrical grids that are either under the control of inept, under-resourced or corrupt state-run agencies, or are so unreliable that they would not be suitable for international business. With a virtual phone number, however businesses bypass these issues by routing the call to a host nation with secure, reliable telephony infrastructure.

Time Zone Efficiency

Virtual phone numbers — especially for smaller businesses with limited resources — work ahead of any time zone issues that may arise. If a call is placed in one region to a business in another region that has closed for the evening (or the weekend or for a holiday), the call can be routed to a different office in a different region that has staff on hand to take the call.


Essentially all virtual phone numbers can be programmed to handle calls, no matter what type of platform from which the call originates. Virtual phone numbers can work with mobile networks or the public switched telephone network, or PSTN. They can be applied to Internet-based voice over Internet protocol — or VoIP — networks, whether the VoIP network is built upon a session initiation protocol — or SIP — system, or a private branch exchange — or PBX — system.

Sequential Dialing

Virtual numbers are backed by sequential dialing, which rings several lines in a predetermined sequence. If the primary number is occupied, the call will automatically be sent to a second number, a third, and so on. This feature ensures that no caller will ever reach a busy signal.

Virtual phone numbers allow even smaller businesses to achieve global reach — a luxury once reserved for only large, international juggernauts. By bypassing regional infrastructure and time zones, virtual phone numbers provide cost-effective, reliable telephony systems to businesses without regard to where they're based. Virtual phone numbers can be associated with toll-free numbers, or provide familiarity to residents with a local number. For businesses whose budgets don't match their global ambitions, virtual phone numbers can fill the telecommunications gap.

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