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Voice Calling for Microsoft Teams: What You Need to Know
With many enterprises across the globe embracing platforms like Microsoft Teams over the last year and a half, many IT decision-makers now face an important question: “What do we do about our voice infrastructure?”
The platforms put in place to enable virtual meetings and quick communications among remote workers also dramatically reduced voice calling at many organizations — leaving enterprise communications managers to reexamine how much voice infrastructure they need in the future, Microsoft MVP Randy Chapman, modern workplace architect and head of product at IT professional service firm Symity, explained during a two-part No Jitter on Air podcast series (listen below). And if their decision to cut back on the old telephony infrastructure is met with resistance, all they have to do is pull up SIP logs to show how calling has dropped off since everyone went home to work, he added.
What You Need to Know About Making a Voice Migration
Fortunately, many organizations are finding that Teams for voice works well enough. Toward that end, they have several connectivity options:
- Calling Plan — Microsoft offers its own PSTN connectivity as a Phone System license add-on; the Domestic Calling Plan allows for 3,000 minutes per user/per month, while the Domestic and International Calling Plan, 1,200 minutes per user/per month, Chapman said.
- Direct Routing — A “bring-your-own-carrier” model, which allows enterprises to connect their voice infrastructure — SIP trunks and session border controllers — directly into Teams
- Operator Connect — Similar to Direct Routing, this service option allows enterprises to add PSTN calling to Teams by selecting from among a certified group of carriers available within the Teams admin dashboard; Microsoft connects directly to these carrier networks. Operator Connect is in public preview.
When it comes to moving a phone system to a cloud-based voice service for Teams, enterprise communications managers should really focus on the dependencies — the things that rely on the voice service, Chapman suggested. In particular, watch for dependencies between the old phone system and lines, carriers, users' location, and devices (phones, headsets, etc.), he said. "You have to make sure that you know and can list all the things that are dependent on the old system, so you can try and recreate them ... in Teams," Chapman said.
Enterprises that have dependencies that “can’t magically plug into the Microsoft ecosystem” — like a door-entry phone, fax machine, or another analog device —might have to find a service that can provide that Teams connectivity, Chapman said. However, “not all managed service providers are created equal,” he cautioned. Do your homework or risk the chance of being stuck with a service that doesn't address your specific requirements, he added.
Part of that homework is looking at pricing, Chapman noted. After all, “good coffee isn’t cheap, and cheap coffee isn’t good,” — and the same applies to voice services, Chapman said.
To get a detailed history on voice options in Teams, click on the first player: