If you have a phone, then you have a phone number—probably an ordinary, traditional phone number. But you may have also heard of “virtual” phone numbers. These are also sometimes called fake phone numbers, secondary numbers or burner numbers. Today we’re going to dive into a simple topic with a complicated history: what ARE virtual phone numbers?

Traditional vs virtual numbers 

To understand virtual numbers, we’ll have to first examine traditional phone numbers. Traditional phone numbers fall into two categories: landline numbers and mobile numbers. One thing all traditional numbers have in common is that they are owned by telecommunications companies and are provided to users. Some examples of these phone companies based in the US would be Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T. 

These providers connect you to the number using their existing hardware and telecom infrastructure. For landlines, this means an old-school phone line connection (wires, cables, etc). For mobile, this connection is made via a SIM card. 

Virtual phone numbers (or virtual numbers) are similar to traditional telephone numbers. This is because they are essentially standard numbers that are not locked down to a specific device. They don’t need a physical phone line or SIM card. Instead, these numbers place and receive phone calls and SMS texts using the Internet. Think of email: it’s almost the same as regular mail, but instead of sending letters through the post office, you’re sending words on a screen. VoIP calls work the same way. But instead of transmitting voice and text messages over the phone company’s satellites and wires, they use the Internet.

How do virtual numbers work?

Virtual phone numbers are almost identical to traditional phone numbers. They follow the same number format, and work on both mobile and landline telephones. In almost every way look like their traditional counterparts. In fact, many people would have no way of distinguishing a virtual number from a traditional one!Virt

The only difference is that instead of being routed through existing telecommunications infrastructure, virtual numbers use the Internet. This is called  “Voice over Internet Protocol,” or “Voice over IP” / “VoIP” for short. Because VoIP calls are routed through the internet, they have a wide array of options for the user. As long as they’re connected to the internet, you can access your number—from anywhere in the world!

Why use a virtual phone number?

Traditional telephone numbers are designed to lock customers into contracts with their carriers. Trying to move to a different phone usually means purchasing a new device from your phone service provider. Or, worse, paying a fee to break the contract and move to a different one. You’re also restricted to “local” phone numbers in your area, and subject to roaming/international calling fees. Changing your regular number is a hassle, and adding new ones can be impossible.

Virtual numbers offer practical solutions to these issues. Let’s examine some of the many benefits of virtual numbers:

Convenience 

When you buy a virtual number from a provider, you instantly gain access to your new number. Virtual numbers live in the cloud and can be accessed on any device that has a stable internet connection. There is no hardware to set up, SIM card to install or wires to wrangle.

They are quick and simple to set up—you can get a Hushed number in just minutes! If you want to change your number or add a new one, you can do so instantly. You’ll also be able to access your virtual number from any mobile device; as long as you are connected to the internet, you can use your number!

Local and international options

Generally, virtual numbers are much less expensive than traditional numbers. They also allow the user to get a local phone number in a different country. With one of these numbers, you can place and receive calls and texts in another country, but be charged the same price as a traditional local number.  This means instant cost savings because you get to avoid the international calling and texting charges that plague normal phone service.

With a virtual number, you’re not limited to a local area code. You can also vary the type of number you use. For instance, toll-free numbers and vanity numbers are useful virtual number options for small businesses. You can also add international numbers if you prefer, depending on the service you select. Many VoIP services allow customers to choose their own area code. Hushed lets you choose the entire number from our available listing, and offers numbers in more than 60 countries!

Freedom and privacy

Virtual numbers allow you to move between devices easily. You can also share your number by providing your log-in information to another person. This is a good option for businesses who may otherwise be unable to afford a dedicated line for business calls, or for independent contractors working a side-hustle. People from every industry, from ride-share drivers and delivery people, creative roles and start-up CEOS are all using virtual numbers to grow their businesses.

Online dating is another popular reason for selecting a virtual number. It’s important to stay safe while connecting with new people; a virtual number is a key addition to your privacy routine. Using one for new Tinder matches allows you to hold back your real phone number until you know more about your date, and adds a layer of security to your online life. 

With the ability to change numbers and select new ones at any time, you’re not locked-in to a complicated and expensive phone contract. Across the world, VoIP numbers are much less costly than traditional phone numbers. If you’re using a phone number app, then it’s very simple to add new numbers to your device or to burn old ones you no longer want to use. 

Get a virtual number today

To recap, we’ve explored the differences between ordinary numbers and virtual numbers. We’ve also looked at the reasons why you may want to get a virtual number. Virtual numbers combine the benefits of mobile numbers with the option to easily move your number across multiple devices. They’re convenient, easy to change, and they add privacy and security to your business or personal life.

There are various options for virtual numbers, including Hushed. A quick Google search for “Virtual phone number” brings up more than 400,000 results! We recommend taking your time to check out the top options available; it’s no secret that we think Hushed is amazing, but we try to stay unbiased here on the blog, and let the app speak for itself! Whichever option you choose, you can’t go wrong with a virtual phone number.