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What is a VLN (Virtual Long Number)?

A VLN is a 12 digit mobile number provided to businesses by mobile messaging providers, that can be used to receive both SMS messages and voice calls.

VLNs can be used on a country level and internationally via roaming (unlike Short Code numbers), allowing businesses and institutions to build SMS interactions with end users across national borders.

As they are digital, messages sent to a virtual long number can be received and processed by different kinds of business applications, including campaign management systems, which can use these messages to trigger further interactions with the sender.

How do VLNs work?

VLNs allow SMS messages and Voice calls to be routed via the internet rather than by conventional telephonic and cellular infrastructure. This means that it is far cheaper as there is no requirement for additional hardware installation and ongoing maintenance costs.

Additionally, the VLN is not associated with a specific telephone device so can be routed to a different device in real time – for example from an office PC during the day to a mobile phone after hours.

VLN vs Short Code?

  • Cost – when compared to short codes, VLN’s are considered both cheaper and quicker to provision.
  • International use – VLNs can be used internationally, which is critical for global businesses that run international marketing campaigns. Short codes can only be used within the country that they have been leased in.
  • Voice support – VLNs natively support voice (anyone globally can ring a VLN) while voice is an expensive extra with short codes.
  • Availability – VLNs can be easily obtained from mobile messaging providers with SS7 access and can be retained on a long-term basis, while short codes can only be leased, usually for periods of less than a year, from mobile network operators.
  • Premium messaging – This is only available with short codes and is not an option with VLNs.

How to get a VLN?

They can be provided by any MNOs with SS7 access or from messaging specialists who can also provide additional services and consultancy.