The communications industry seems to travel at the speed of sound with its expanding capabilities and features energizing cloud-based solutions. One component, virtual phone numbers, is a popular cloud communication tool for businesses of all sizes. Available in various formats based on capabilities, accessibility, usage, and more, virtual numbers reflect the growing demand for cost-effective, efficient business communication. One such freephone or toll free number is a UIFN or universal international freephone number. With its 16+ years’ experience with virtual numbers, AVOXI explores the benefits and drawbacks of using a UIFN and addresses the key question of “how much does a UIFN number cost?”.
What Is a Universal International Freephone Number / UIFN?
In short, a UIFN is a type of international toll free number that is accessible from multiple countries. The difference between a UIFN and an ITFS number is that an ITFS number is country specific, meaning customers and prospects in that particular country or region can access the freephone number without incurring charges. Generally, those numbers cannot be dialed from outside the designated country. Additionally, international toll free numbers are in a format familiar to that region, and customers typically recognize them as toll free.
A UIFN operates in a similar way, meaning that callers in specific locations can dial your phone number free of charge. While ITFS numbers are specific to the country, UIFNs are accessible from approximately 40 countries. These phone numbers use a 3 digit country code followed by 8 digits. That makes your UIFN 11 digits long, longer than other traditional phone numbers. The 11 digit format is a consideration if its recognition as a toll free number is an issue.
How Much Does a UIFN Cost?
Compared to other types of virtual phone numbers, such as an ITFS or local telephone number, the UIFN cost seems expensive. However, it’s important to note that a UIFN is a toll free number that works in roughly 40 countries. And that makes it a robust communication tool.
Typically, the first cost you experience is a one-time universal registration fee for your UIFN phone number. This fee can cost up to a few hundred dollars depending on the carrier from which you receive it.
Additionally, you are responsible for the standard costs associated with using a virtual phone number from a provider—any associated monthly costs as well as per-minute costs based on usage. Plans vary by vendor, so get the details on monthly fees and rates per minute.
The cost that often takes clients seeking a UIFN by surprise is the per-country set up charges and/or per-country rental costs. These typically run a few dollars per month for each country in which you want access.
Who Benefits from Using a UIFN?
So, who benefits? You do, if you have customers and prospects in different countries and if you can save costs using a UIFN instead of multiple ITFS numbers. However, it is important to note that availability can be an issue if a UIFN is not accessible in all the countries you need. That means you will still require additional phone numbers to fully reach your audience.
Again, since the format of a UIFN is generally not a familiar dialing pattern, it may incur a learning curve for your target audience before usage grows. But, if you are a company with a specific customer base, and you are able to effectively encourage your audience how to contact you using the UIFN, it can serve as an extremely useful and cost effective communication tool.
Determine the Best Fit for Your Business
Both UIFN and ITFS numbers are great options for a company operating a global business. Each type offers a freephone option for your customers to reach out to you. If those customers are outside the 40 countries covered by a UIFN, you’ll need to explore other options to fully satisfy your communication needs.
For example, let’s say that your customer base is located in several Latin American countries. A single UIFN seems to be the answer. Let’s select some countries to test that theory:
- Argentina: UIFN available
- Costa Rica: UIFN not available
- Colombia: UIFN available
- Mexico: UIFN not available
- Uruguay: UIFN available
As you can see from the selection, some countries do not have UIFN accessibility. You can use a UIFN for those countries with availability and select international toll free numbers for the others, or you can use ITFS numbers for all. You will want to talk to your provider about the cost and rates to make the best decision for your business and ensure that you have the communication solution that’s the right fit.
For more information, talk to a VoIP Specialist and see these related articles: