While most business have heard of Microsoft Teams and have some idea about it's capability to drive connection and collaboration within workforces around of the world, most people think of the platform mainly as a tool for internal interaction, rather than a fully functional replacement for legacy phone systems. In addition to the robust internal capabilities of Microsoft Teams, external voice telephony can also be part of this integrated range of services using Microsoft’s own PBX in the cloud.
Microsoft Teams can now be used as a comprehensive business telephony solution, replacing an existing PBX phone system and its associated equipment and costs with a cloud-based system. This solution provides the same internal and external voice calling capabilities as a traditional PBX, but also integrates closely with the full Microsoft Teams suite allowing for near seamless integration across telephone, messaging and other Microsoft Teams functionality.
Using Microsoft Teams for Voice allows users to be flexible and more effective in the way they communicate and collaborate. That’s because users can make and receive calls using any Teams-enabled device no matter where they are. Within the Team’s interface, users can also forward, transfer, or record calls as well. Microsoft Teams, therefore, can foster greater productivity across the organisation. From a business perspective, an integrated platform for internal and external communication is much easier to manage. With a single system businesses can reduce complexity and lower administrative costs. Phone System administrators can also control calling options, add users, or make changes to user settings from the same dashboard used for managing all aspects of Microsoft Teams making it simple to add and remove user access when necessary.
While Microsoft Teams is straightforward to use internally, there are a couple of different ways to set up external calling with the PSTN network.
Microsoft Calling Plans
The first method for connecting Microsoft Teams to the PSTN network is through Microsoft’s own cloud-based calling plans. With this approach, Microsoft is the PSTN carrier for all internal and external calls. Pricing and tariffs for the calling plans depend on whether enterprises choose Domestic Calling Plans or Domestic and International Calling Plans.
While these calling plans are a quick and easy way for smaller firms to connect to the PSTN network, there are some drawbacks in terms of coverage, cost, and support.
Call charges are also a factor to be taken into account depending on business requirements. Each plan offers a fixed bundle of calls, may or may not meet the needs of some businesses.
Finally, there’s limited ongoing customer support available, so if you lack internal resources to manage your telephony, this could be an issue. This is especially true for large organisations with complex communication requirements.
Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams
Direct Routing is another way to connect Microsoft’s Phone System to the PSTN via an existing or new third-party telephony provider. The provider offers the necessary cloud infrastructure to route incoming and outgoing external calls to Microsoft Teams.
MS Direct Routing has some advantages over Microsoft Calling Plans, especially for larger organisations including; greater flexibility, broader geographic coverage, lower rates, and increased levels of support than calling plans.
Direct Routing is more flexible because organisations can choose their own provider. This differs greatly from Microsoft’s Calling Plans, which has strict limitations on carriers and locations. With Calling Plans, for example, there are certain bundles available while many providers can create a tailored solution that meets specific business requirements.
As mentioned before, Calling Plans are only available within limited territories, so multinational enterprises may not be able to use Microsoft Teams for every region they operate in. Many managed service providers, however, have global networks with worldwide coverage so that businesses can implement a unified communications system throughout their entire organization.
In most cases, customers will have lower rates with a third-party provider than with Microsoft’s Calling Plans. That’s because having one contract rather than separate contracts for each regional carrier allows organizations to achieve economies of scale. Using one global provider with a centralised pool of call minutes allows enterprises to eliminate wasted minutes or avoid topping up maxed out individual accounts.
Partner Wholesale Networks can help you to take your customers business to the next level, by integrating voice calling, voicemail, video conferencing, and Microsoft Teams video calling services. Our solutions integrate the entire Office 365 suite – One Drive, SharePoint, as well as third-party apps such as Dropbox and Zoom. To find out more about how your business can improve your wholesale telecommunications product range for your customers and provide a telecommunication solution that includes contingency for severe weather events, please get in contact with the Partner Wholesale Networks team.