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In my last post I discussed the price benefits of SIP, as well as the ability for SMB’s to have Direct Inward Dial Numbers. Both of these are pretty compelling reasons to choose SIP on their own. However, there is a third feature of SIP that makes it unlike any other phone line, and that is the ability to port non-local phone numbers to your local SIP service. In the new VOIP world phone lines are untethered to their physical location — something that traditional phone line providers were not permitted to do by the FCC. This feature is great for businesses that are relocating to a new city — which may have a a different area code and definitely a different telephone exchange –and want to keep their published telephone phone number for inbound calling and for their outbound Caller ID.
The benefit of retaining an established number is tremendous. Prior to this technology, businesses would have to pay for an expensive call forwarding service, known as a RCF, or a new number referral, prompting callers to learn a new telephone number. But this wasn’t a perfect scenario. Even though a business could continue to receive calls on their old number, any outbound calls from the new location would display their new number on the called party’s Call ID. As you might imagine, this could become very confusing for clients and customers.
Another application for this feature is to enable businesses to establish a market presence in different geographic regions. Let’s say that I operate a medical billing company in Akron, Ohio, but am answering calls for a physician’s office in Atlanta. If I want to provide a telephone number for callers that is local to Atlanta, but have it ring into my Akron billing office, SIP will enable me to do just that.
In summary, SIP extends the reach of business communications beyond a physical location in ways which were never possible before. And once a phone number is ported to SIP service, there is typically no extra recurring charges. But there is one final point to keep in mind: not all phone numbers are portable to all providers. So make sure to double-check with your new SIP provider prior to contracting with them for service.