This is the first in a series of articles on using Microsoft Teams for voice calling in your environment.
Many of our clients choose to adopt Microsoft Teams as their preferred collaboration and messaging app. It’s very appealing and easy because it comes with your Office365 subscription. Most of our clients have migrated from Exchange to Office365 to get out of the on-premise email business. It makes complete sense to do so, and is a great example of how the power of the cloud can reduce complexity within IT environments. The next evolution of email is now team collaboration and messaging, and Microsoft has delivered this through their Microsoft Teams app.
Once your people are utilizing Teams for messaging, the very next step is to introduce calling capabilities.
Calling with Microsoft Teams
The Teams app is able to provide direct calling between internal users right out of the box, and is often used for video chats as well. If you have it enabled, a user can also create multi-person video meetings and join easily from the app or invite 3rd parties to the meeting.
What the Teams app does not do out of the box is allow you to make phone calls to external 3rd parties. The good news is that it can do this, but it must be configured first.
There are two main options to choose from when configuring PSTN dialing for Teams: Microsoft Calling Plan or Microsoft Direct Routing. In both cases, there are extra monthly user costs when these features are configured. But the costs vary dramatically depending on how they are configured.
Microsoft Calling Plan
The Microsoft Calling Plan is an all-Microsoft cloud calling service. You are essentially migrating your phone numbers to the Microsoft cloud and paying Microsoft for your calling plan. Using this option means you are completely relying on the Microsoft cloud for all your voice calling features.
If you are creating a brand new system from scratch and just need basic calling features, this is not a bad way to go. It can be quickly provisioned and rolled-out to users.
The downside is that it is not cheap. You can expect to pay $12-15/month per user for a domestic calling plan. More if you need international service.
Microsoft Direct Routing
Microsoft Direct Routing enables the Microsoft cloud to talk directly to your existing phone carrier. This lets you keep your current service, phone numbers, and dial plan. It also helps keep your costs down while maintaining flexibility and ownership of your phone numbers.
There is still a small cost to enable this feature. Expect to pay $3-5/month per user.
Once configured, the people in your organization will be able to use Teams to make and receive phone calls from Teams. And most importantly, you can integrate this capability with your existing phone system.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about how these features are configured, the benefits and downsides, and what you can expect from both a user and admin perspective.