Fixed vs. Non-fixed VoIP: What Are They and What’s the Difference?

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Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is quickly replacing traditional phone lines. If your business is considering switching to VoIP, one of the primary decisions you’ll need to make is whether to get a fixed or non-fixed VoIP phone system. But what’s the difference?

Both fixed and non-fixed VoIP systems allow you to place calls over the internet. However, phone calls placed with fixed VoIP systems are attached to a physical address and location, like your office’s address. When you place a call with a fixed VoIP system, the person you’re calling will see a local number with a local area code. In contrast, a non-fixed VoIP system is not tied to a physical address. As a virtual phone number, it’s tied to an email address only.

While the definition of each type of VoIP system is pretty direct, you’ll need a lot more detail to decide whether fixed or non-fixed VoIP is right for you. Let’s take a closer look at each system’s pros and cons.

Table of contents

How does a fixed VoIP work?

A fixed VoIP number is physically linked to an address, such as a home or office building. This means that when you place a phone call using your VoIP system, the person on the receiving end of the call will see a local phone number show up on caller ID. As you probably know from your personal experience, seeing a local number means a customer is more likely to answer the phone—after all, scammers and spambots typically use non-fixed numbers, not fixed numbers.

Fixed services are more likely to be associated with a VoIP service provider through a session initiation protocol (SIP). These will probably be a paid service rather than free.

How does a non-fixed VoIP work?

With a non-fixed VoIP, a number is linked to a user, not to a physical address or service provider. The phone number that shows up on a call recipient’s caller ID won’t have a local area code or address. Non-fixed VoIP numbers are sometimes known as “virtual phone numbers.”

These are generally free of charge, although some platforms have premium paid options. Getting set up is quick—you only need an email address (and payment information for paid plans) to get started.

The benefits (and challenges) of fixed VoIP

Fixed VoIP has its own benefits, especially in terms of how customers perceive your business’s professionalism:

  • Increased security. Fixed VoIP providers often have broadband networks that connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This means they own the network carrier over which your calls will be sent. They can then protect your calls with the highest possible level of security and prevent calls or networks from being breached.
  • Improved reputation. Because non-fixed VoIP is often associated with fraud, your customers might be wary of them. As a small-business owner, you want customers to pick up your calls. They will be much more likely to do that if the displayed number appears to come from a reputable source.
  • Enhanced emergency access. A third advantage is that when you dial an emergency number via a fixed VoIP system, calls are automatically redirected to your nearest local emergency services number. Emergency services will be able to track your location, which means such services will arrive more quickly. It’s a safer environment for you and your employees to work in.

However, in an increasingly international working environment, having a fixed VoIP number has some drawbacks:

  • Fees. A fixed VoIP provider will normally come with setup charges. With more flexible free options available, it’s easy to see why non-fixed options might turn a few heads.
  • Expensive international calls. Business is going global. If you’re collaborating with teams from multiple countries, fixed VoIP is somewhat costly and inflexible. International calls can be expensive which makes it difficult to collaborate. Your fixed VoIP number is specific to your country, and international calls incur a heavy charge.

The benefits (and challenges) of non-fixed VoIP

With a non-fixed VoIP, you can make calls from anywhere. But that isn’t the only benefit you get from non-fixed VoIP services:

  • Most affordable. Unless you’re using a paid non-fixed VoIP plan, the only fees incurred come from your internet provider. You don’t have to pay for hardware, a monthly subscription, or any international charges.
  • Don’t need a physical address. If your business doesn’t have a physical location, fear not. All you need is an email address to get a non-fixed VoIP number.
  • Global location. With non-fixed VoIP calls, your business’s phone number and location aren’t tethered to just one city, state, or country. Instead, these calls work on a global scale, which makes it easier for your sales staff and other traveling employees to approach customers internationally.

This feeds into the challenges that come with a non-fixed VoIP, including:

  • Less professional. Non-fixed VoIP numbers do not usually show up with a local area code, so they do not have the same sense of trust and professionalism that come with fixed, localized VoIP numbers. Given this lack of familiarity that is usually present when dealing with local area codes, customers may simply choose not to answer the calls.
  • Not as secure. It’s easy for scammers to operate using non-fixed VoIP numbers, since they’re not linked with physical locations and can’t be traced easily. This makes consumers wary of non-fixed VoIP numbers and could damage your business’s reputation if your number is spoofed.
Best Business VoIP Providers
RingCentral
Best VoIP for most businesses
5 out of 5 stars
5.0
Ooma
Best VoIP for at-home work
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Nextiva
Best VoIP for midsize businesses
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Grasshopper
Best VoIP for mobile business
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
8x8
Best budget VoIP
4 out of 5 stars
4.0
Learn more about our top brands.
Get your business connected

RingCentral is our top VoIP choice for small businesses because of its unlimited domestic business phone and messaging, starting at just $19.99/mo.

  • Adaptable to your business needs from equipment rentals to toll-free numbers
  • Global infrastructure with an easy setup
  • Easy to scale and find a plan that works for you—regardless of your business’s size

The takeaway

VoIP is the future of business communication. While there are differences between fixed and non-fixed VOIP, both have compelling advantages. By implementing a VoIP system, your business will save communication costs on domestic and international calls, as well as on hardware (since there’s nothing extra to purchase). VoIP also promises a clearer connection and is easily scalable.

Whether you value geographical freedom, increased security, or cost effectiveness more, the VoIP system you choose will depend on what works best for your business.

Related reading

Non-fixed and fixed VoIP FAQ

What is a non-fixed VoIP used for?

A non-fixed VoIP is used for businesses of all sizes to communicate globally and operate remotely. Examples of non-fixed VoIP services include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype.

Who uses non-fixed VoIP?

Non-fixed VoIP numbers are generally used by multinational companies that need to communicate with employees all over the world without incurring huge international call fees. Non-fixed VoIP solutions are also used to connect with employees working locally but away from a specific office location. Sales teams often use non-fixed VoIP solutions as well to connect with customers from a shared company line.

What are the main advantages of a fixed VoIP vs. a non-fixed VoIP?

A fixed VoIP number is physically linked to an address, such as a home or office building, which makes it more reputable and recognizable and less likely to be used by scammers.

A non-fixed VoIP is not linked to a physical address but instead to an individual user’s email address. With non-fixed VoIP, international calls are cheaper and more affordable.

What are the main disadvantages of non-fixed VoIP?

The main disadvantage of a non-fixed VoIP provider is their reputation for untrustworthiness. Because calls are transferred over the internet, numbers can be accessed by hackers and are difficult to trace. This anonymity makes non-fixed VoIP popular among scammers and robocalls. One solution to mitigate this disadvantage would be posting the number on your company website and free business directories like Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places.

Can a non-fixed VoIP connection be traced?

A non-fixed VoIP connection cannot be traced easily, as it’s not linked to any physical location. However, it is possible to trace a non-fixed VoIP number through the use of a very simple caller ID structure that allows a caller name to link with your number.

What are some of the best practices when using a non-fixed VoIP number?

To optimize a non-fixed VoIP number, businesses should follow similar protocols as they would with a traditional phone line. For example, make sure to set up a professional voicemail recording to give callers the peace of mind that they are calling a reputable company. Brief all call operators to answer the call using your business’s name first—again to give callers a sense of ease in knowing that the number they have called is linked with the right business.

If my business has to make international calls, what is the best VoIP option for me?

If you’re doing business or working overseas and need to make numerous international calls, non-fixed VoIP is easy to use and saves costs. For example, if you have two or three branches in different countries, communicating between them is much less expensive if you choose the non-fixed VoIP option.

Stephanie Coleman
Written by
Stephanie Coleman
Stephanie covers financing and loans for Business.org. As a small business owner herself, she understands the hurdles that come with starting a business and the importance of making well-informed financial decisions. Now, she seeks to bring her foreknowledge to others to help them find the clarity they need—with the assurance that the information they’re looking for has been thoroughly researched.
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