Working from practically anywhere in the world, but reachable by an Austrian phone number at all times, that was the requirement when I founded Fresh van Root. I wanted a landline phone number which allowed forwarding to any phone number worldwide – but of course without having a real landline.
I discovered Sonetel, which offers exactly what I was looking for. You can get a virtual phone number for a location you want to be present from, and forward that phone number to any cell phone. Besides that, it offers many other features.
Right now I am working from Capetown, taking phone calls forwarded from my Austrian phone numbers (cell + landline). The process usually looks like this:
- Get off the plane
- Get a local voice and data SIM
- Enable forwarding
- Enable forwarding from my Austrian cell number to my virtual phone number from Sonetel
- Login to Sonetel website, enable forwarding to locally bought SIM
- Call my Austrian cell phone and virtual phone number and see if everything works as expected
The Sonetel app (iOS and Android) allows
You can configure a voicemail that is forwarded to your email. The greeting phrase of your voicemail can be uploaded as audio file.
Of course you can create multiple users having their own extensions and forward settings.
That’s are the features I am using for running Fresh van Root. The service offers options to configure more complex needs (i.e. complex forward settings, call recordings).
Whats my verdict after using it for multiple years?
Sonetel is a bit of a geeky service. The landing page looks modern but as soon as you log on their website you land on a complex settings dashboard you might be overwhelmed with. The user experience and usability is clearly not a priority for the creators of this service. It looks like a product from 2009, not 2019.
When taking calls I hear a short delay. If you are a heavy phone person that may annoy you. That is okay for me because I am using Sonetel for taking or making the occasional call outside EU countries. Fresh van Root runs in the cloud and phone calls are an exception. Most voice calls with my team are done via Zoom, Signal or WhatsApp. Clients use Microsoft Teams and Slack, both allowing voice and video calls.
The costs for my set up are cheap. I haven’t compared it to other service providers with a similar offering (and there are many I think), here is an overview of the prices.
Sonetel announced to work on new apps, and also some AI features for automated call handling to come later in 2019. Telling from app store reviews, many people seem to have problems with the service, you might wanna check out the app reviews and take a look at other services too.
Note for readers from Austria: Virtual Austrian phone numbers are only available under area code 720. In most countries you can choose a phone number that fits your needs (the exact city i.e.).