Virtual telephone numbers, sometimes known as long codes, allow you to send and receive SMS from a local telephone number. Recipients see a regular telephone number and can respond to messages as they normally would, but the messages are forwarded by a web-hosted service directly to your FrontlineCloud account. Nearly all of our users prefer this method of communication. Virtual numbers often can be leased at little expense -- for only a few dollars each month -- and allow you to manage communications easily from FrontlineCloud without any kind of hardware device.
FrontlineCloud offers connections to virtual numbers in more than 35 countries -- more than any other SMS service provider in the world. However, we have users in more than 135 countries ... so clearly demand exceeds current capabilities. Regulatory restrictions, gateway service capacity, and even perceived market value play a role in limiting the number of available virtual numbers. You can see pricing and country availability here.
That said, if a virtual number is not available in your country of choice, we have worked hard to provide other options for sending and receiving messages from FrontlineCloud. We think the combination of approaches gives our users more options to connect with people they care about than any other mobile messaging service in the world.
Below, we've outlined additional approaches to creating 2-way messaging:
One of the most popular ways to connect to FrontlineCloud is our free FrontlineSync app. It essentially turns any Android phone into a local service for sending and receiving messages. Incoming messages are forwarded from the Android to Frontline, using a data or wifi connection. Frontline then sends messages over the internet to the Android, which then sends them on to the recipients as SMS.
To get started, you can see our Help and Support section on how to connect and use FrontlineSync.
International Phone Numbers
Some virtual phone numbers are able to send and receive messages internationally. If you think your recipients will be willing to pay international texting rates, you can use this approach. Many of our users are concerned their recipients will not want to pay international rates. However, some prefer a small number of high quality responses, and view international texting rates as a filter for only receiving messages from recipients who have a strong desire to transmit information.
Combination of International Phone Number / FrontlineSync
You could send outgoing messages through nearly any gateway / aggregator service we work with -- each one can reach nearly any country with outgoing messages. You could then instruct a recipient to reply back to an Android phone. This may limit your response rate, because a recpient cannot simply hit 'reply,' but in certain conditions this may be a useful approach. For instance, some users have reported that they can get better outgoing rates through the gateway / aggregator services than on a SIM card. So our users can save money on outgoing messages, and recipients can save money by texting a response to a local number.
Virtual SIM Hosting
In many countries, you can send a virtual SIM by post to World-Text, and they will convert it to a virtual number for you (there is a fee associated with this service). This would effectively create a virtual number that you can then connect to FrontlineCloud. There are many limitations to this process, including which carriers can be reached from a given SIM card, so we strongly recommend calling World-Text to explore this option. You can read more about Virtual SIM Hosting on the World-Text website. Also, you can see a list of supported countries here: http://www.world-text.com/services/twoway/simhosting/supported.php