When you run a business you want to know important metrics on customer/user engagement. It is very easy to measure live chat or emails but very difficult to measure analog telephone calls. I faced this challenge when I ran a web development startup back in 2006. While remote/virtual is a buzz word in post covid era, we had remote team members decades ago and having a virtual phone number was need of the hour. While researching I came across Exotel cloud telephony and used them for virtual Indian phone number. However we also had a lot of US customers and required a local US phone number which could forward calls to Indian Exotel number. This is when I discovered Sonetel virtual international phone number and using them till date!
Sonetel is a Swedish company, providing free and high-quality telecommunication services to small and medium sized businesses.
International Virtual Phone Number
Similar to how physical servers have moved to the cloud, modern telephone infrastructure has also moved to the cloud. Virtual phone number works mostly using VOIP (Voice over IP) technology and is able to make domestic/international calls. Virtual phone numbers are available in both local calling area code and toll-free number format. Just like regular phone numbers, virtual numbers are fully-featured: voice mailbox, call forwarding, SMS and others.
Sonetel Virtual Phone Number Features
Along with virtual phone number, Sonetel also provides free forever customer chat and internal team chat features. However in this article I will focus only on the features of Sonetel Virtual Phone Number.
Easy to Signup & Setup
Unlike other services like Twilio which focusses on developers, Sonetel is not an API service but an end-user product with out of the box features. It is very easy for small/medium business owners to signup and setup Sonetel Virtual Phone Number on their own.
Choose numbers from 69 countries
Yes, you read it right. You can sit at your home/office and get local numbers from 69 countries across the globe. The exhaustive list of countries includes United States of America, United Kindgom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan etc. Further you drill down to choose number with city level codes. They have pre-purchased thousands of numbers and giving you more choice.
International call forwarding of incoming calls
You can attend incoming calls on Sonetel web/app for free. Incoming calls to your phone numbers can also be forwarded anywhere worldwide at the cost of a local call. Answer with your regular mobile or any other type of phone.
This is one of the best features I love. You can easy configure as IVR with option like 1 for support, 2 for sales etc. Calls can be forwarded to different people/number based on the IVR selection. Sonetel has pre-recorded IVR voice messages in several languages or you can upload your own recording.
Call from your international numbers
You can make calls from your Sonetel phone numbers, using your regular mobile, from anywhere in the world.
You can conference call by adding multiple people or create a conference room where people can dial-in. Each conference room can handle up to 100 participants and last upto 3 hours long.
Call recording is another essential features for training and quality checks. Sonetel provides free recording for all your incoming and outgoing calls. You can activate call recording on all calls company-wide – or only record on specific Sonetel phone numbers, users or activate recording per call.
Well who doesn’t live a free forever service? You can simply use Sonetel chat on your website and get free international phone number. I have enabled Sonetel chat widget on this article so that you can get a feel of how it looks(purely for demo purpose & I will not monitor/respond to chats).
Sonetel Virtual Phone Number Call Options
Sonetel has yet another uniqueness in the call options provided. Whenever you initiate a call to a team member, contact, customer or phone number – you are presented set of call options like in the image below.
Free Call to Sontel Users
This option is offered if the person you are calling is a Sonetel user. The call will go across the Internet between you and the person you call.
Call via Internet
With this option, Sonetel app will connect your call across the Internet/WIFI to Sonetel. Sonetel will thereafter set up an onward call across the regular telephone network to the number you want to call. This is ideal when you are at home/office with good WiFi internet connection.
Call via regular mobile/landline network
If you prefer to have a more secure connection with more dependable audio quality, Sonetel can optionally set up a mobile/landline call to you and an additional call to the number you are calling – and then bridge those calls together. I prefer this method when I’m on mobile internet or while travelling. The downside is that you may have to pay for two calls.
Sonetel Free Virtual Phone Number & Pricing
Here comes the best part, international virtual phone number with Sonetel is completely free if you use their live chat on your website. You can also receive calls for free, if you use Sonetel mobile app. You can also forward the calls to you home country with very low cost.
The free virtual number is limited to one per account. However you can purchase any number of virtual local phone numbers for your business in any city or country of choice.
If you don’t want to use Sonetel chat widget on your website, you can also purchase a virtual phone number for as low as $1.79. It is critical to have the number of long term and I purchased it for 3 years. I suggest that you to purchase the number for 3 years because Sonetel is one of the cheapest cost service for virtual phone number.
You can make free calls to team members and other Sonetel users(over app). You can also make regular calls to contacts and regular phone numbers worldwide at the cost of local calls.
Limitations of Sonetel Virtual Phone Number
Sonetel free service has a lot to offer. You can get only one free phone number but you can additionally purchase any number of additional local numbers. Incoming calls are free as long as you attend them on web or Sonetel app and call forwarding will be charged. Conference rooms can have max 25 participants and each user may only have one conference call at a time. The service is intended for normal individual business use and may not be used for telemarketing or mass-calling activities or any other unintended usage. Each user may only make one call at a time and max 8 hours of calls per day.
FAQ’s about Sonetel Virtual Phone Number
You can receive SMS on some types of numbers that Sonetel provides. This detail is shown while choosing the number and if you require receiving SMS, choose a number that supports SMS feature.
Sonetel deliver’s SMS messages to you by email (SMS-to-Email). Emails are sent to the user that the Sonetel phone number is connected to. It is free to receive SMS on your phone numbers, but there is a fair usage restriction.
Sonetel currently does not support outgoing SMS.
Sonetel officially does not allow usage of virtual number of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world. It does make sense to use the same contact number of WhatsApp and I hope they enable usage on WhatsApp.
Phone numbers from the following countries can be selected for free by using Sonetel chat widget on your website.
United States – City
United Kingdom – City, National & Mobile
Belgium – City & National
Canada – City
Croatia – City
Czech Republic – City
Denmark – National
France – City & National
Hungary – City & National
Ireland – City & National
Israel – City & National
Italy – City
Lithuania – City & National
Netherlands – City & National
Norway – City & National
Portugal – National
Sweden – City
Switzerland – City
Paid numbers can be purchased across 69 countries.
Yes, you can cancel the Sonetel subscription whenever you want. However I do not recommend changing business phone numbers frequently. Your users/customers would have saved the numbers and it is better if you use the same number for long term.
If you have read the article till here, you should definitely go ahead and get a free virtual international phone number with Sonetel. Do share your experience with comments below 👇