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Did you know that VoIP (Voice over internet protocol) telephony gives businesses the option to have either fixed (geographic) phone numbers or non-fixed (non-geographic) phone numbers? Do you know the difference and how to choose the right system for your business?

The great advantage of using a VoIP system is that your calls are made using the internet. With VoIP your people can make and receive calls using their office numbers from any internet enabled device anywhere in the world, as long as it’s set up with the correct software. You’re no longer tied (or ‘fixed’) to a telephone line at a specific location.

So what is the difference between fixed and non-fixed VoIP numbers?

Fixed (geographic) VoIP telephone numbers

These phone numbers start with an area code that tells you where the person you are calling is based. For example, 01892 is the area code for Tunbridge Wells, therefore all homes and many businesses in the area have a telephone number that starts 01892.

Fixed phone numbers are associated the local telephone exchange, hence why they are linked to a specific street address like your home or your office and are geographic. However, unlike a traditional landline, a VoIP fixed number does not depend on the physical connection through the telephone line to operate.

If you have a VoIP solution you’re not tied to using your local area code, for example you could have a Tunbridge Wells 01892 phone number but in fact be operating from Canterbury.

Non-fixed (non-geographic) VoIP telephone numbers

0800 numbers, also known as Freephone numbers, are a well known example of non-geographic telephone numbers. They are not associated with a specific exchange area or street address.

Non-geographic numbers were originally created to offer services like redirecting calls and special charging arrangements, which weren’t available on a standard landline. Did you know that non-fixed numbers were originally created by reallocating under-used fixed number area codes? Before 1985, when BT introduced the first free to call numbers, the prefix 0800 was in use as the area code for the village of Tongue in the Scottish Highlands.

As non-geographic numbers aren’t linked with a specific region or address, businesses using non-fixed numbers usually benefit from being seen to have a national presence.

The right VoIP telephony system for your business

As with any business system, your individual requirements will determine the best solution for you. At ITS we believe in supplying and installing telephone systems that meet your needs as well as providing support to allow your telecommunications infrastructure to grow with you.

Here are some points to consider if you’re trying to decide between fixed or non-fixed VoIP numbers.

Benefits of fixed VoIP

  • Has better credibility, as fixed numbers are less often used for criminal purposes
  • Local connection for nearby customers with the same area code
  • Calls to emergency services are more reliable as your location is automatically shared
  • Often cheaper to run than a traditional landline (though not as cheap as non-fixed numbers)

Fixed VoIP tends to work well for businesses that are well established and will be trading in the same location over a long term period. If you have a strong local customer base, for example as a local retailer or a firm of solicitors, sharing an area code with the majority of your customers will give you extra credibility and highlight the local connection.

The other main consideration is easier access to the emergency services: because fixed numbers are linked with a specific location, calls are automatically routed to the best emergency call-handling centre to dispatch aid to the caller’s location.

Benefits of non-geographic numbers

The main reason clients come to us for a non-geographic (non-fixed) number, is to offer their callers a freephone option. Taking away the charges for calling your business encourages people to get in touch with you and demonstrates that you put your customers first.

Also, if you work with customers over a large geographical area, then non-fixed numbers may work well because they don’t associate you with a specific location, and therefore enhance your reputation as a large national presence, as opposed to a small, local company.

Emergency Calls and VoIP telephone systems

999, the UK’s national emergency response service, operates by identifying where you’re calling from and routing your call to the relevant call-handling centre for your location. If you use non-fixed VoIP there will be is no street address associated with a telephone number. This means you may not be automatically connected when you call 999 or 112, so it’s critical to clarify this with your provider. ITS are required to ensure all customers using non-fixed VoIP and we work with Gamma to update the 999 register accordingly.

Contact ITS: use our expertise to find the optimal solution and get your new number.

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