Phone Number Options

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What are the different kind of phone numbers available in India for businesses & entrepreneurs?

We often on chat, e-mails, calls get the immediate question from businesses/entrepreneurs that what kind of a phone number is available? It is still unclear, and the telecom operators especially in the business scenario do not explain this clearly on their portals either, so this is an attempt to demystify what are the kind of phone number options available today in India.

1. Land-line number

- No Incoming or Outgoing SMS
– Outbound Local & STD possible
– Inbound available
– Normal call rates charged for “consumer calling in” depending upon his/her plan
– Can be reached by any mobile or land-line phone from across India and the world
Will be location specific (for Mumbai 022-21242124, for Delhi 011-21242124, for Chennai 044-21242124 etc. – an e.g. given below of Zivame and read their case study here )

2. Mobile Number without Incoming SMS (in a smart phone solution)

- Outgoing SMS & No Incoming SMS
– Outbound Local & STD possible
– Inbound available
– Normal call rates charged for “consumer calling in” depending upon his/her plan
– Can be reached by any mobile or land-line phone from across India and the world
– The Number series will be specific as per state (8088-919-888 is a Karnataka mobile number- example given below of Practo – also read their case study of how they use Exotel )
Anyone outside Karnataka calling on a Karnataka mobile number has to dial with a “0” or “+91″ and will be STD charge for them. Even a JustDial number is publicized with a “0” because there is no mobile number which will be local charges for all Indian consumers.

3. Mobile Number with Incoming SMS (in a smart phone solution) (also called Long Code)

- Both Outgoing & Incoming SMS available
– Outbound Local & STD possible
– Inbound available
– Normal call rates charged for “consumer calling in” depending upon his/her plan
– Can be reached by any mobile or land-line phone from across India and the world
This are special series numbers available via some specific operators, solution providers
– Some examples are 9243-396835 (Exotel for Food) and Groupon (click here to see their case study and number 9243-76-7666)

4. Mobile Number with Incoming SMS, but NO Call facility

- Both Outgoing and Incoming SMS possible
– No Outgoing/Outbound call possible, neither Inbound/Incoming calls possible

5. Toll Free Number (1-800-numbers)
We have covered this already in a detailed blog post here .

- No Outgoing nor Incoming SMS (Outgoing SMS possible with some solutions like ours via a sender ID, but not on a normal toll-free phone)
– No Outbound Calls
– Inbound/Incoming calls available
Zero (0) call rates, i.e. the consumer calling in is not charged for the call, in-turn the call cost is paid by the organization owning the Toll-Free Number
– Can be reached by any mobile or land-line phone from across India only
– Provided by most solution providers, in the form of 1800-200-1611 (for EduDisha – read the case study ) or for CA Club India one of our customers (1800-3000-0505 – see the below image)

6. International Toll Free Number

- No Outgoing nor Incoming SMS
– No Outbound Calls
– Inbound/Incoming calls available
– International customer of that Toll Free Number country will get a free call, i.e. if a Brazil Toll Free number is taken, then only Brazil residents will have a free “no charge” call.

7. Short Code is only for SMS – 55444 (Innoz Technologies – this is their Short code, we do not provide short codes, we are happy with what they are doing, and hence sharing this number)

- Outgoing & Incoming SMS both available
– No Outbound/Outgoing calls possible
– No Incoming/Inbound Calls possible
– Provided in the VAS space by some providers

8. Single Number Solutions
Is like a land-line number, but basically the same phone number is blocked across certain circles/states.
For example, how our customers JustEat, have 080-600-00-600 in Bangalore, and 022-600-00-600 in Mumbai) or our friends at Olacabs (see image below)

- No Outgoing, nor Incoming SMS available
– Outgoing Calls possible
– Incoming Calls possible
– Can be reached by any mobile or land-line phone from across India and the world
– This type of number costs a little higher and is available only with few select telecom operators, and the number is going down of availability because some of the numbers might already have been sold across circles to other customers and hence is difficult to bring, but still possible.

9. Toll Numbers (1860-numbers)
The only 1 major difference with a Toll Free Number is that on a Toll Number, the calls are charged at local rates for the “consumer” calling in to the Toll Number, rather than it being free. Rest all is same as Toll Free Numbers.

Which kind of phone number works for my business?

This is the million dollar question, only you can answer, but hopefully some examples below will help you make an easier decision.

Let me give some examples:
a) Land-line numbers are good for businesses who are local focused like a cab company such as Cabs4Hire or a restaurant serving hot food like Kaatizone in Bangalore (see image below-they are also our customers)

b) Mobile Number without Incoming SMS are good for any business not wanting SMS on their support, and have typically India-wide customers, who will call from anywhere and mostly, any location 25/26 states will be a STD call for the customer and does not matter much. E.g. an E-Commerce company
c) Mobile Number with Incoming SMS are for companies who would like their customers to SMS and call them on the same number, e.g. Groupon runs multiple campaigns on the number with special codes, and also receives calls on the same number.
d) Mobile Number with Incoming SMS but no Incoming calls is used by companies who want customers to SMS special offers and coupon codes to them, but not receive calls on these campaigns.
e) Toll Free Numbers are used by slightly large organizations such as Carwale, Godrej (in Exotel case) who can afford paying high call rates to subsidize for their end customer getting a free call. Also, companies dealing with children, special focused social groups use Toll Free numbers since their target market is poor and can not afford paying for call charges.
f) International Toll Free Numbers is used when any company has focus on a particular outside market, let’s assume USA, then you can buy a USA Toll Free Number, which will make it easy and free for USA residents to call on.
g) Short Code is used for running smart, short SMS campaigns and offers by many marketing & branding agencies.
h) Single Number Solutions are used by companies wanting to establish a Single Brand across all the cities in India, for example our customers JustEat have a Single Number Solution.
i) Toll Numbers are less frequently used, as their costing is same as Toll Free Numbers, and not many companies use this. It is slowly dying out.

What about fancy/vanity/special numbers?

Fancy, Vanity, Special numbers like 8880008888 (Shopperson) etc. are available at an extra premium price on all types of phone number options in India. It is typically the businesses decision on how much will it matter to have the number easy to remember. For someone like JustDial or JustEat it is important, but for us at Exotel, not that important.

We hope this post has helped you understand the A-Z of all types of phone numbers available in India, and you can take a better informed decision on what is right for your business.

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