A Guide to Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

Direct Routing – Your questions answered

1. What is Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams?

Direct Routing is a way to provide a PSTN (Public switched telephone network) connection to Microsoft Teams users so that they can make and receive external phone calls on any device using Teams.

Traditionally, internal and external business telephone calls have been delivered using a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system, usually located on the business premises.

Microsoft Teams can now be used as a business telephony solution, replacing an existing PBX phone system and its associated equipment and costs with a cloud-based system, to provide full PBX voice calling capabilities inside and outside your organization.

To enable this, you will need the following:

  1. A Microsoft Phone System (formerly known as Cloud PBX). This provides call control and PBX capability in the cloud with Microsoft Teams.
  2. Connection to and from the Microsoft Phone System to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). There are two ways to achieve this:
    1. Microsoft Calling Plans – Internal and external calls are delivered with Microsoft as your PSTN carrier using Microsoft’s price plans for domestic and international calls. These tend to be more popular with smaller organizations.
    2. Direct Routing – connects the Microsoft Phone System to the PSTN to deliver calls via an existing or new third party telephony provider, with their associated tariffing and pricing. These appeal to larger enterprises with multiple locations.

2. What is cloud telephony?

Cloud telephony, also known as cloud calling, offers voice communication services delivered through a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system hosted in the cloud, rather than on the customer’s premises.

Businesses can benefit from eliminating the costs of running and maintaining hardware, such as PBX boxes and handsets.

Users can make and receive calls on their office or home line from any suitable device that connects to the internet – for example, a desk-phone in the office, a “soft-phone” client on a PC at home and a mobile phone on the go.

Features such as call forwarding and call recording are usually available. It is also possible to run contact centers using cloud telephony.

Charges are usually based on a subscription model or pay as you go basis.

Most cloud telephony solutions are part of a broader range of communication and collaboration services that include instant messaging (chat), web conferencing, video, document and application sharing. This is sometimes referred to as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

3. How can Microsoft Teams be used to make and receive external phone calls?

Many organizations are using the Microsoft Teams suite of integrated services such as instant messaging, video conferencing, document and application sharing, to improve workplace collaboration

Now, voice telephony can also now be part of this integrated range of services.

Using Microsoft Teams for Voice allows users to be flexible and more effective in the way they communicate and collaborate. Users can:

  • Use one platform – the Teams interface, to make phone calls internally and externally
  • Make and receive calls using existing numbers on any device in any location – at home, out and about or in an office
  • Forward calls when required
  • Use group pick up when colleagues are busy on other calls
  • Transfer calls
  • Record calls

Businesses benefit from increased flexibility and efficiency. Businesses can:

  • Adopt a common policy across all locations, reducing complexity, lowering costs and providing complete control
  • Integrate Contact Centres to Teams for Voice, as part of the migration journey
  • Enable Phone System administrators to control calling options, add users and make changes to user settings from the same dashboard used for managing all aspects of Microsoft Teams usage.

4. What is the difference between Microsoft Calling plans and Direct Routing?

Microsoft Calling Plans and Direct Routing are alternate ways to connect Teams users connect to the PSTN network.

1. Microsoft Calling Plans

These are cloud-based calling plans that deliver calls internally and externally with Microsoft as your PSTN carrier. They offer a quick and easy way for smaller firms to connect to the PSTN network.

There are two plans with pricing and tariffing to choose from depending on your business needs: Domestic Calling Plans and Domestic and International Calling Plans.

There are some important considerations to take into account before choosing Microsoft Calling Plans.

International coverage is limited. This situation is constantly changing so it’s worth checking that the countries important to your business are included.

Call charges are also a factor to be taken into account depending on the calling patterns in your business. These can be relatively expensive. These are detailed in Calling Plans.

Finally, there’s limited ongoing customer support available, so if you lack internal resources to manage your telephony, this could be an issue.

2. Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

Direct routing connects the Microsoft Phone System to the PSTN via an existing or new telephony provider.

Direct Routing has some advantages over Microsoft Calling Plans. Customers benefit from lower call rates, wider geographical coverage, and full support.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams is increasingly being used by larger enterprises for voice telephony. It offers greater flexibility, wider geographic coverage, lower rates and increased levels of support.

Industry commentators predict that 90% of enterprises will use Direct Routing by 2022 for PSTN connectivity.

5. How does Direct Routing work?

Microsoft certified partners can provide direct routing for Microsoft Teams solutions.

The way Direct Routing works can vary, depending on the provider concerned.

LoopUp provides a fully managed service using Direct Routing to connect Teams users to our global voice network. We then deliver the call to the external user via the PSTN (traditional telephone network).

LoopUp cloud communications diagram
LoopUp cloud communications diagram - microsoft teams direct routing

This approach benefits businesses in several ways:

  • The need and costs involved to manage and maintain on premise PBX equipment is eliminated,
  • Using one telephony platform wrapped with a fully managed service, the Teams for voice user experience can be replicated in all locations globally. This makes it easy to train everyone in the organization, ensure compliance and provide support centrally
  • Individual local carriers can be replaced with one provider, reducing the complexities of dealing with many different vendors
  • Adding and removing users can be carried out centrally
  • Existing numbers can be used globally across the organization

6. Which Microsoft licences are required to use Microsoft Teams for telephony?

You will need to hold licenses for Microsoft Teams, Audio Calls and Phone System respectively to enable Microsoft Teams to be used for telephony.

There are several ways to buy these.

You can add separate licenses to your existing suite of licenses. For example, Microsoft’s E3 license bundle includes basic Teams collaboration functionality, but excludes Audio calls and Phone System, which can be added separately.

E5 licenses include Teams functionality, Audio Calls and Phone System all bundled in.

If you need additional voice features and functionality than is provided in E3 and E5, you may need other “add on” licenses.

These include:

  • Audio Conferencing – enables attendees to join a Teams meeting by dialling a number from a “traditional” telephone.
  • Toll free numbers – toll-free numbers for Audio Conferencing, auto attendants, or call queues.
  • It may prove more cost effective for a large organizations to buy a bundle of software in a Microsoft 365 Enterprise plan. Typically, when you buy several add-on licenses individually instead of as part of a plan, you may end up with a higher combined cost.
  • Your Microsoft certified partner will be best placed to advise you on the optimum licencing solution.

Want to know more about Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams?

To find out how LoopUp can support your cloud communications journey, click here.

About LoopUp

LoopUp (LSE: LOOP) helps organizations move their global communications into the cloud to support flexible working, increase productivity and reduce complexity and cost. Our fully managed solution includes Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams for cloud telephony, Premium Remote Meetings for best-in-class virtual meetings with external guests, and Modern Workplace Advisory consulting services for Microsoft voice and cloud solutions.