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VoIP vs Virtual: What’s the Difference, and Why Should I Care?

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Lots of cloud communications providers use the terms “VoIP” and “virtual” interchangeably—especially when it comes to phone numbers. And we’ll be honest: we do, too. But, there are some real (and important) differences between virtual phone services and VoIP phone services that businesses need to understand before they invest in just any cloud communications platform.

In this post, we compare VoIP vs virtual phone numbers and systems to help you determine which option is the best for your business’ unique communications needs.

VoIP vs Virtual Communications: At a Glance

Before we dive into the differences between VoIP and virtual phone numbers, let’s take a brief look at how they both work.


VoIP and virtual phone numbers and systems cost less than traditional wireline communications services. This is primarily because VoIP and virtual communications require no expensive, on premise equipment. Savings of 35% to 50% are typical when compared to traditional wireline services.


Additionally, VoIP numbers and systems use the public Internet to route phone calls. Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp are all examples of VoIP platforms.

Virtual numbers and systems leverage private networks supported by secure data centers to route phone calls to existing mobile devices or landlines. For example, AVOXI’s virtual phone numbers and PBX systems are supported by 7 data centers around the globe.

The Basic Difference

Basically, VoIP is a transmission protocol that allows calls to take place over the Internet without touching any traditional phone networks largely or touching them only at the end to deliver the final call. Virtual Numbers or Virtual Phone Systems are the services created using VoIP as a starting point technology.

VoIP vs Virtual Numbers

Now that you have a grasp of the basic difference in how VoIP and virtual communications work, let’s talk about how these two options stack up when it comes to features, phone number selection, flexibility, reliability, and more.

Calling Features

Most VoIP platforms, like Skype or Whatsapp, simply allow you to make and receive phone calls over the public Internet. Virtual phone numbers and PBX systems come with lots of business-class calling features, like global call forwarding, call recording, call transfer, call conferencing, and more.

Available Phone Numbers

Most VoIP services provide you with a standalone number to make and receive calls. In most cases, that phone number is not portable or transferable. This is a disadvantage for businesses who want the flexibility to choose their own number and have the flexibility to port it to the provider of their choice.

Virtual phone service providers offer a wide range of phone numbers, including local (DID) numbers, toll free numbers, UIFN numbers, and more. Plus, virtual services allow businesses to pick their own vanity phone numbers, and transfer them at any time.

Inbound and Outbound Calling

Here’s where VoIP systems have an edge. Virtual phone systems allow you to forward phone calls to an existing mobile device or landline at a cheaper rate than traditional wireline providers. But, they rely on the fact that you have an existing device. VoIP applications, like softphones, enable users to make inbound and outbound calls, so an existing cell phone or landline is not required.

Reliable Service

VoIP communications are dependent on the quality of the public Internet connection they use to route phone calls. As a result, VoIP is only as reliable as your Internet connection.

Virtual phone numbers and systems depend on the network of data centers we mentioned earlier in this article. While redundancy and failover configurations vary from provider to provider, virtual phone systems typically offer more reliable service.

Room to Grow

Looking for a scalable communications solution? Both VoIP and virtual systems provide you with more flexibility and scalability than a wireline, on premise communications system. However, virtual phone service offers more room to grow and change than pre-configured VoIP calling plans. With the interchangeable reference to VoIP and Virtual service providers and numbers, it is critical that you research what the system actually offers.

For example, AVOXI’s Cloud PBX system offers users the ability to add extensions from the Online Portal, and change call forwarding settings in seconds. Most VoIP platforms, like Skype or Whatsapp, aren’t built with this kind of scalability in mind.

Learn More: VoIP vs Virtual Systems

Looking for more information about VoIP and virtual phone systems? Talk to an AVOXI cloud communications specialist today to find out which solution is right for your business.

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