A virtual phone is similar to any other phone number, except that it’s digital (through Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) rather than tied to a fixed UK address or location.. And with traditional landlines being switched off by 2025, now is the ideal time to go virtual.
The really good thing about virtual phone numbers is they can be used on a large range of devices, not just a traditional telephone. This includes mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
Virtual phone numbers are gaining popularity fast, especially among small businesses and sole traders looking for reliable, secure, affordable landline alternatives. Technology has come a long way since the old Skype calling days - sound is crystal clear now.
Virtual phone numbers can also help to make your business look more professional and you never have to miss a call again. Then there’s the other handy features it brings to your business that enhance both internal and external communications. Call density reports and logging, call recording, hold music and video conferencing are just some of them.
How does a virtual number work?
As mentioned, virtual numbers use super reliable internet technology called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to connect calls. This means they don’t need a traditional landline or SIM card, and basically work using similar technology to things like WhatsApp and iMessage.
All you need is a reliable Broadband internet connection or mobile data to start making and receiving calls using your virtual phone number. The sound quality with VoIP is also typically much better than with an older-style landline phone, plus it’s affordable and doesn’t require loads of data.
What are virtual phone numbers used for?
From the biggest multinational conglomerates to the smallest of start-ups (our speciality!), virtual phone numbers are helping businesses communicate with customers and suppliers. It also means more calls are answered no matter where you are in the world. Fewer missed calls can mean more sales and a better return on investment.
Types of virtual numbers
At bOnline, we offer a range of virtual phone numbers, including local, national and freephone numbers. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Are also sometimes called 'geographic numbers' and relate to a specific area of the UK. If a UK landline starts with 01 or 02 then it’s classed as a local number.
Many businesses choose to have a virtual phone number with a locally recognisable area code, even if they’re not actually located in that area. It’s perfectly okay to do this, in fact it can be a useful tool in targeting customers within a specific locality. As people often like to call numbers that have a familiarity to them, local numbers can help generate more incoming calls. It can also help you build your market within a certain area, without going to all the expense and hassle of actually having an office there.
Also known as ‘0800 numbers’ or ‘toll-free numbers’, freephone numbers don’t incur any charge when made from a UK landline or mobile. The owner of the freephone number will typically bill the recipient of the call instead of the person making the call, which customers often find appealing. This again can help boost call volumes which hopefully convert to sales for your business.
These are ‘03’ numbers. 03 numbers are known as “non-geographic” because they’re not tied to a particular location. This makes them very similar to 0844 or 0845 numbers. However, 03 numbers are cheaper to call, because they cost the same as calling a local landline - even if you’re calling from a mobile.
These are virtual phone numbers that can not only handle calls but also receive SMS text messages.
What are the differences between virtual and regular phone numbers?
We’ll start off by looking at the benefits of a virtual number:
- You don’t need a separate phone, saving you the costs of extra hardware and other equipment.
- Calls can be made from anywhere, offering greater flexibility so your team can work from anywhere. This can also help you save money on things like travel costs, rent and other overheads.
- Calls can easily be diverted to specific members of your team, improving customer service.
- Efficiency is improved, helping to drive sales.
How much do virtual phone numbers cost?
bOnline offers some of the very lowest rates in the UK for your virtual phone line. One of our most popular packages offers unlimited calls and starts at just £13.95+VAT a month. This is far cheaper than a business line with BT (starting at £27.55 a month excluding VAT) - which also doesn’t come with unlimited calls.
Take a look through our various pricing packages to find a plan that fits your business best.
Can I keep my existing phone number when I get a virtual number?
Yes, you can. Many business owners want to keep their number, especially if they’ve had it a long time and their customers are familiar with it.
Once you’ve signed up with bOnline we can do the transfer for you, without you having to buy anything extra and no costly engineers visit either! It’s simply a case of paying our one-off £20 transfer fee.
Your transfer will be complete in around 10 to 20 days. However, you can carry on making calls in the meantime, with no interruption in service.
How to get a virtual number
Getting a virtual phone number couldn’t be easier. Sign up for a free trial, then when we’re ready and have found a package that works for you, we’ll do the rest.