The difference between fake and virtual telephone numbers

Telecoms /

Reading through the BBC website the other day, I stumbled across this interesting little article about fake phone numbers. It was talking about how Ofcom have set aside 20,000 numbers specifically to be used in things like television appearances.

Sorry, you can't call Ryan Gosling

I was certainly more aware of this concept of fake number from films coming out of the USA. Every telephone number you hear being given out in a film seems to start 555. Well, that's because that's the range set aside for use in those films.

In the UK, Ofcom have set aside 15,000 Local Numbers for major cities or regions of the country. They've also put aside some mobile numbers, freephone numbers, premium rate and other non-geographic numbers.

But sadly, if you call these they simply say the number isn't recognised. Sorry to all those Ryan Gosling fans hoping to call him up…

Immersive gaming experiences

But interestingly, we've recently been talking with a development agency who are creating an online game. In it they wanted to be able to present a telephone number for a little village in Shropshire. The village in the game isn't real, but to give it some realism they wanted to have a telephone number that would actually take calls; you know, just in case someone really gets into the game.

Now, I'm not a gamer, but I think it's great that at the end of the line will be a pre-recorded message that can continue the experience of the game, but in the real world!

This is something we're easily able to help them realise, using one of our virtual Local telephone numbers and the Information Line service to deliver the message to each caller.

I then started thinking about whether you could extend the gaming experience by actually making the call a part of the game. Maybe some content could be accessed by selecting options from a menu (this could be done using Virtual Receptionist), which you then enter on screen to continue. It would be just like the quest books I read as a kid. You had to make decisions at the end of each page, where the choice you made would take you through a different route to the end of the quest (or not as was often the case for me!).

Just an idea…

Everyday local business

In an everyday setting, virtual telephone numbers can be used for all types of businesses. If you're based in Southampton, Winchester is only half an hour up the road. So, doing business in both cities isn't unexpected.

But they have completely different area codes. Using virtual telephone numbers, you can have numbers with the right area codes to advertise in each city. You aren't being "fake", because it's perfectly legitimate for you to provide a service in each city; you're just not based in Winchester.

And, with a call forwarding service like we provide, you'll actually take the calls. That could be back in Southampton, or straight to your mobile so you can take them wherever you are.

That's the key difference between a "fake" and virtual phone number. "Fake" numbers will get you no where. A Virtual Phone Number is intended to be used to receive calls.