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Updated Apr 09, 2024

What Is a VoIP Number?

A VoIP number is a dedicated phone number assigned to a user and not tied to a physical line. Learn how VoIP numbers work and how to get one.

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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When choosing a business phone system, more companies are opting for systems that support voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) numbers and technology. Learn about the flexibility and advantages of VoIP numbers, how they compare to standard business phone numbers and how to determine if one is right for you. 

What is a VoIP number?

VoIP number is a dedicated phone number assigned to a user or customer. Unlike a traditional phone number, it’s not tied to a physical line. If you’re placing a call with a VoIP number, your recipients won’t know the call isn’t coming from a landline. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right business phone system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Many VoIP providers offer additional features along with their VoIP business phone numbers like voicemail services and text messaging.

Some VoIP services are co-branded as cloud phone services. A company running a phone service based in the cloud owns or manages the hardware necessary for its offerings.

As remote work increases, more businesses opt for VoIP services because of the limitations of landline phones. With a VoIP service, an employer can assign a number to each remote team member, even if they work in multiple states or on several continents.

How does a VoIP number work?

VoIP calls work over an active broadband internet connection, unlike regular phone numbers, which require copper wire infrastructure managed by local phone companies. Each regular number corresponds to a specific line in the area.

VoIP numbers eliminate the need for phone companies to link them to local infrastructure. A VoIP system takes analog audio signals and converts them to digital data sent over the internet.

FYIDid you know
The term “broadband internet” refers mainly to cable internet plans, but business-grade broadband connections, such as fiber, dedicated internet and enterprise-grade 5G, are also considered broadband internet.

What are the different options for making VoIP calls?

You can make VoIP calls in the following three ways.

1. Analog telephone adapter (ATA)

The first option is to use an ATA, which allows you to connect a conventional phone to a computer or directly to your internet connection. 

This adapter converts the analog signal from your traditional phone into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet.

2. IP phone

Alternatively, you may invest in an IP phone, which resembles a standard telephone with a handset, cord and cradle. 

The key difference is that these devices feature Ethernet ports for internet connectivity, eliminating the need for traditional phone lines. 

IP phones are designed to connect directly to your router and are equipped with the necessary hardware and software to handle VoIP calls out of the box, providing a seamless integration with cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) systems or VoIP platforms for enhanced call management features.

3. Special software

Finally, the most reasonably priced and accessible way to utilize VoIP calling is through specialized software or apps. This method requires you to download a softphone application on your computer, smartphone or tablet. Ensure you have a stable internet connection and that your device’s speakers and microphone are functional. 

For businesses requiring multiple telephone lines and numbers, you may be able to connect your VoIP provider to a cloud-based call center software package or cloud-based PBX. In addition to business calling, you’ll also get access to a range of other features.

>> Learn More: Landlines vs VoIP

Did You Know?Did you know
If you need a business phone number but not a new business phone, downloading a VoIP provider’s softphone application is the quickest and likely cheapest option. You can get a new virtual phone number for yourself, which could be a local, toll-free or international number to make and receive calls on.

How do you get a VoIP number?

To get a VoIP number, first you have to choose a VoIP provider.

Once you’ve done that, the process will vary slightly between providers but you’ll likely have to do the following:

  • Sign up: When you’ve selected the provider, choose the plan that best fits your business needs. The pricing of plans will vary depending on how many lines and numbers you want and what features you want the system to have, like voicemail and call forwarding.
  • Choose a number: Many VoIP providers allow you to select a local number, a number in another state or country or a toll-free number. Some services also allow you to port over your traditional telephone number.
  • Set up your account: Nearly all providers allow you to switch on and off new lines and configure system features via an online dashboard — that could be in your browser or via a cell phone app. You can set calls to your number to divert to another handset or number, switch on your voicemail or even set up an auto-attendant (the automated service that allows callers to choose a department by pressing a number on their keypad).
  • Test your setup: Your VoIP number depends on a stable internet connection to make and receive calls. You can test this by making a few calls and, if everything is fine, you may want to try switching on high-definition (HD) audio to see if there is enough bandwidth to support that service.
TipBottom line
Most VoIP providers will allocate at least one local number per connection as part of the service charge. Some also offer inclusive toll-free numbers.

How much do VoIP numbers cost?

All VoIP number providers list their plans and associated features on their websites. Some options start at about $10 per month, but the cost increases depending on your desired features.

The inclusion of international calling capabilities could also affect the total cost. Some of the lowest-tier subscriptions only allow calling within the United States and Canada. However, paying more facilitates communication with people from more countries.

The number of employees needing VoIP numbers is another factor influencing costs. For example, a certain monthly amount might give you 10 numbers while a higher monthly fee would give you more.

If cost is a major concern for your business, narrow your focus to find providers offering free trial services. While some features will likely be disabled during a free trial, you’ll learn enough to determine whether a particular service fits your needs and budget.

What are the benefits of using a VoIP number?

These are some of the top benefits of using VoIP numbers: 

  • Low costs: Many business owners are drawn to the low costs associated with VoIP numbers. Because VoIP providers offer price transparency about base rates and extra expenses, it’s easy to set a budget for your overall communication costs.
  • Accessibility and flexibility: VoIP’s increased accessibility and flexibility are also significant perks for business owners. Whether employees are in their office or on another continent, they can use the same number to make and receive calls if there’s a stable internet connection.
  • Superior quality: A VoIP number also generally offers superior quality to landline calls. Many companies even provide HD calls and take up less bandwidth than you’d probably expect. 
  • Scalability. VoIP technology supports scalability. Customers can sign up for subscriptions that allow more users as needed instead of investing in expensive hardware and dedicated lines.
  • Efficiency with mobile apps. Many VoIP services allow you to switch between numerous communication methods without leaving the app. This convenience helps keep productivity levels high and means that workers can always reach out to each other when needed.
FYIDid you know
A recent Research and Markets report forecasts that the global VoIP market will surpass $102 billion in total value by 2026, resulting in a 3.8 percent compound annual growth for the 2021-26 period.

What to consider before getting a VoIP number

When you choose a VoIP number, you also choose a VoIP provider to rent the number from. This can be a major decision for your business, particularly if you wish to migrate from a traditional phone system to a cloud-based PBX system.

When making that selection consider the following:

  • Your business needs: Step back to assess the current needs of your business and what an optimal outcome for your VoIP setup would be in the short term. Think about the volume of domestic and long-distance calls you make and which channels of communications you want to interact with customers over (many VoIP providers can connect you up to short message service apps, social media messaging apps and more). Also, consider what calling features you desire, such as call forwarding and auto-attendants. You may also want to check compatibility with your current customer relationship management system.
  • Scalability: When selecting a provider, consider the medium term. Make sure the provider’s system can scale up easily to accommodate additional users, lines and advanced features as your company expands.
  • Cost considerations: Like cell phone plans, many VoIP providers offer a range of levels available, each with its own features. Some offer extra functionality for an additional charge. To reduce monthly costs, avoid paying for features and services you don’t need.
  • Co-workers’ opinions: Consider getting input from other people at your company before finalizing your decision. For example, if your organization has a call center team, those employees have valuable input about what’s needed and whether it’s a good time to change your communications systems.
  • Technical infrastructure: VoIP numbers and systems rely on the internet to work. A VoIP solution may not be the right choice for you if you have patchy internet, poor download and upload speeds, high latency and restricted bandwidth.

By evaluating each of these factors before you make your decision, you’re more likely to choose the right VoIP number and a provider capable of handling your current and future communications needs.

Best business phone systems with VoIP numbers

All of the best business phone system providers offer their commercial customers a variety of VoIP numbers to choose from.

Below, find a summary of the VoIP number options available at eight of the country’s leading networks. Click on the links below each summary for a full review of that provider’s services.

Dialpad

Each of Dialpad’s plans comes with a local VoIP number. International and toll-free numbers cost $15 a month (annual plan), extra local numbers are $5 a month and you can get a fax number starting at $10 per number, per month. Subscribe to the service starting at $15 a month (annual plan) per user.

Read our in-depth Dialpad review to find out the full range of features on the platform.

Ooma Office

Ooma provides a toll-free number with 500 toll-free minutes on its small business plans, one of the most generous offers on the market right now. You can also transfer any existing numbers you use over to the network free of charge. You also benefit from unlimited free calling to the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Plans start from $19.95 per month, per user.

Read our comprehensive Ooma Office review and discover if it’s right for your business.

8×8

8×8 users can choose a virtual number for more than 120 countries, an excellent option if you do business overseas. It also offers standard local numbers, toll-free numbers and vanity numbers (numbers that spell out a word on an alphanumeric keypad), plus you can bring your existing number with you.

Read our latest 8×8 review for an in-depth look at the platform’s features and functions.

RingCentral

On each RingCentral subscription package, customers get a free business VoIP number and unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada, with plans starting at $30 per month, per user. International toll-free numbers cost $14.99 per month, U.S. toll-free numbers $4.99 per month and additional international numbers from $5.99 per month. You can also purchase vanity numbers for a one-off $30 fee.

Read our up-to-date RingCentral review for a full rundown of this popular service.

Zoom

Zoom has the lowest starting monthly plans of any major VoIP platform at $10 a month, which includes a U.S. or Canadian phone number. For an extra $5, you can add unlimited outbound calling to your service. Its $20 subscription offers a direct dial-in number for one of 40 countries and it offers free domestic calling in that country. Additional phone numbers and North American toll-free numbers are available from $5 per month. 

Read our in-depth review of Zoom and find out what more you can do with the platform.

NextivaONE

Subscription to NextivaONE’s service starts at $23.95 per month, per user, on an annual contract. You’ll get a free toll-free number with inclusive minutes and every user on your plan will get a local phone number. Your company will benefit from unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada. The firm also offers international numbers to clients.

Read our comprehensive review of NextivaONE to find out about the platform’s services for businesses.

GoTo Connect

On the GoTo Connect VoIP system, you receive unlimited local, toll-free and vanity numbers on your account. You and your colleagues will also benefit from 1,000 free monthly minutes shared across all users. GoTo Connect is designed for growing firms and a subscription costs $22 per user, per month, if you have between 11 and 20 staff members.

Read our latest review of GoTo Connect to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the platform.

Vonage

Vonage offers customers a full range of local, toll-free, vanity and international VoIP virtual numbers. Plans start at $13.99 per month, per line, toll-free company numbers cost $39.99 per month and local numbers $4.99 per month. The cost of international numbers is available on request. 

Read our up-to-date review of Vonage and decide whether this might be the VoIP provider that’s right for your company.

VoIP number FAQs

Many business owners wonder about the security of using a VoIP phone number, especially if they often discuss confidential matters during calls. Although VoIP is not a hackproof technology, the good news is that it has gotten more secure over the years. VoIP companies often have website sections devoted to their security practices. Data encryption is one of the best and most widely used ways to keep your data safe, whether it’s a phone call or a text message sent through a VoIP-enabled app. Aim to do business with a VoIP company that shows it takes security seriously by specifically detailing security measures on its website or within other branded content.
Traditional phone systems use a process called circuit switching to connect phone calls between parties. When you dial a number, it gets routed to a switch operated by your local carrier to the person you want to contact. Several interconnected switches make that connection possible. Once the individual receiving your call answers the phone, a circuit opens. It closes only when one party disconnects. VoIP services use an alternative to circuit switching called packet switching. Rather than maintaining a constant connection during a phone call as circuit switching does, VoIP companies use data networks that send and receive data only as needed. Packet switching doesn’t send information over a dedicated physical line. Instead, it uses networks with thousands of possible paths. Many VoIP service providers use data centers to ensure reliability.
The computer sending the data breaks the content into packets. Each packet has an address that tells the network devices where to send it. Each packet also has a payload, which could be part of an email, an MP3 file or another type of digital content. The sending computer transmits the packet to the nearest router. The router receives the material and passes it to another router closer to the recipient. That process continues until the receiving computer gets all the necessary packets, all of which likely took numerous paths to get to their destination. Because packet switching sends data along the least congested routes, it’s a highly efficient option. Additionally, packet switching means several internet-based phone calls occupy the same amount of space as one call on a circuit-switched network, mainly due to data compression.
Yes, but it’s difficult for several reasons. The data transmitted as part of a VoIP call such as Caller ID and IP address can be hidden or spoofed. It may be possible to trace a call from a fixed VoIP phone linked to a physical address but all you’ll have is the IP and getting a reliable and precise geographical location for the IP address might be impossible. If you’re trying to find out who called you, there are online VoIP directories available but they are far from complete.
A VoIP phone is any phone that can use or be adapted to use VoIP to make and receive calls. You can make VoIP calls on various devices, including a cell phone if you have the correct app to do so.

Shannon Flynn contributed to this article.

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Mark Fairlie brings decades of expertise in telecommunications and telemarketing to the forefront as the former business owner of a direct marketing company. Also well-versed in a variety of other B2B topics, such as taxation, investments and cybersecurity, he now advises fellow entrepreneurs on the best business practices. With a background in advertising and sales, Fairlie made his mark as the former co-owner of Meridian Delta, which saw a successful transition of ownership in 2015. Through this journey, Fairlie gained invaluable hands-on experience in everything from founding a business to expanding and selling it. Since then, Fairlie has embarked on new ventures, launching a second marketing company and establishing a thriving sole proprietorship.
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