Privacy trick - Using a VoIP number for Whatsapp20 Dec 2020
Phone numbers are public addresses and must be shared, for others to reach you. So they become a permanent record of sort, against your name. While having another phone number, for Whatsapp is possible, this has some side effects:
- Getting a new number means a visit to the telecom store.
- A SIM slot in the device is lost forever (OR) The SIM needs to be kept safely elsewhere between usages.
- The new number will still be an Indian number (+91 prefixed).
Twilio provides a VoIP (Voice over IP) phone number, which could be rented from anywhere in the world, at a price of $1/month (in most geographies), without the above side effects.
- A credit card that is usable internationally.
- A functional local number to connect the rented number with.
- A functional email address, which will be the user name for the twilio account.
Creating a functional Twilio account
- A trial account creation is simple - Just click the “Sign up” button in Twilio and sign up using the Email Id and the password.
- Twilio mandates 2FA (2nd Factor Authentication) for accounts after the trial period. The 2FA is done either via SMS to the functional local number or via the Authy application.
- Once done, you can pre-pay a certain amount using your credit card, depending upon how long you intend to use the VoIP number ($12 / year / VoIP number).
- Projects are basic units in Twilio before any service provisioning happens. So we have to create a project, before renting a number.
Renting a number
- In the project dashboard, either click the “…” button (OR) go directly to the Buy a phone number page
- Choose the country in which you want the phone number and the capabilities you need on that phone number. For Whatsapp to work, the minimum capabilities needed are Voice and SMS.
- While rental rates are normally $1 / month / number, in the United States, United Kingdom and in EU Countries, they are much higher in other countries.
- Once a number is chosen and bought, monthly rentals are automatically deducted from the pre-paid account.
Receiving SMS and Voice calls
- Unlike a phone number bought from a telecom store, incoming SMS and voice calls on twilio numbers are nominally charged. Hence usage limits must be adhered to.
- The content of all incoming voice calls and SMS messages are stored for a very long time and can be accessed via the Numbers dashboard.
Using the twilio number in Whatsapp
To use Whatsapp on the provisioned twilio number, the following steps are sufficient:
- Keep the SMS Log page open in your browser.
- Download Whatsapp and input the provisioned number.
- Whatsapp will send the verification SMS to this number, which would show up in the SMS log page.
- Inputting the verification code in the phone, will make it your Whatsapp number.
- Please avoid using the above approach, if you find handling the extra complexity overwhelming. The complexity is only worth, if you want an extra layer of privacy for your conversations and want to keep them isolated from your regular phone number.
- Twilio numbers are de-provisioned from your account automatically, if you run out of $ and you can only get them back, within a month by paying the rental. So using them as your primary Whatsapp number implies that you are paying a life-long rental of $12 / year.