What is the Microsoft 365 Phone System? – UC Today

What is the Microsoft 365 Phone System? – UC Today

What is the Microsoft 365 Phone System? – UC Today 0 0 Alan Dickson

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We take an in-depth look at the Microsoft 365 Phone System
The Microsoft 365 Phone System (sometimes called the Office 365 Phone System) is a product that enables private branch exchange (PBX) capabilities and automated call controls on the cloud.
It works with Microsoft Teams as your primary user client, as well as Skype for Business and Microsoft-certified hardware devices. With Phone System, you can replace any existing PBC capabilities through the Microsoft 365 cloud with Microsoft Teams. 
Read on to learn exactly what is Microsoft 365 Phone System and how to use the product for better collaboration and contact centre productivity at your organisation.
“Phone System” by Microsoft is the technology available for companies to enable call control and PBX (Private Branch Exchange) capabilities in the Microsoft 365 cloud. The system works with Teams clients and certified devices, to bring telephony into Microsoft Teams. 
With Phone System, calls between users in your organisations are handled internally, with no connection to the PSTN. For external calls, there are different options for connecting to the PSTN. 
The prerequisites for using this phone system are as follows:
There are now three ways to connect your PSTN to your Microsoft 365 Phone System:
Microsoft 365 Phone System with Calling Plan
Thanks to the number porting feature we mentioned earlier, you won’t lose your existing phone numbers when moving to a fully cloud-based phone system with Microsoft.
However, Microsoft 365 Phone System without Calling Plans makes more sense for more complex scenarios. You can retain your PSTN carrier, adopting Microsoft Direct routing so that your telecom provider can seamlessly connect with Teams. This is useful if Calling Plans are yet to be available in your country or considering a multi-national deployment with a layered number allocation and regulatory background.
As a third option, Microsoft also supports a combination of the two. I.e., you could opt for the end-to-end cloud in one location while going down the PSTN route in another – connecting back to the same Microsoft cloud tenant. Now, let’s look at the Calling Plan option in more detail.
You can check for your country availability  – for example, calling plans are available in the UK, but phone numbers are automatically assigned only for the city of London. In the UK, you get tolled numbers for 19 cities, including all the major ones like Birmingham, Manchester, Plymouth, Coventry, etc.
You can choose from four different Calling Plans:
You can add on Communication Credits, a sort of recharge system for cloud-based telephony, for additional services.
If you can’t use Calling Plans (or do not want to for whatever reason), Microsoft allows you to stay with a preferred, local PSTN carrier with direct routing.
Microsoft 365 Phone System with PSTN and Direct Routing
The Microsoft 365 Phone System supports virtually every telephony carrier globally, making Teams accessible to the broadest possible user base. And, you can choose to configure/manage the solution in-house or get it done by your partner carrier instead of leaving it to Microsoft.
You need the following to use Microsoft 365 Phone System with PSTN and Direct Routing:
Interestingly, this second deployment model works well with third-party equipment such as pagers, legacy phones, etc.
Operator Connect is one of the most recent solutions for companies hoping to use Microsoft Teams as their telephony solution. Like direct routing, it allows users to bring external carriers from outside of Microsoft into Teams. 
Operator Connect involves using one of the carriers defined as Microsoft Partners within the Operator Connect ecosystem to manage your phone connectivity for you. Unlike direct routing, where you’ll need to leverage PowerShell coding and other complex set-up requirements, Operator Connect offers a “managed service” experience.
Your carrier is responsible for the PSTN calling requirements on your behalf, and you can assign numbers and manage your connectivity through an administrator portal within Microsoft Teams. Operator Connect is generally considered a slightly simpler solution than Direct Routing, but it may not have the same flexibility or customisation if you have specific requirements. 
Like Direct Routing, Operator Connect is usually recommended for people who might not have access to calling plans in their region. You can also continue to use your existing carrier with Operator Connect if you already have a good deal from a specific company or search for a new phone system provider capable of providing a managed service. 
Phone System offers a range of tools built into Microsoft Teams, so you can use Teams as your central environment for placing and receiving calls. Phone System users can place calls by clicking a name in their address book, and there’s access to various tools you’d expect from a standard telephony carrier, like call forwarding and music on hold.
Some of the top features include:
As you can see from this feature set, the product is a perfect replacement for legacy phone systems, while adding on the benefits you’d expect from a cloud environment.
Notably, some Phone System features are not available in DoD and GCC high clouds at the time of writing, such as Music on Hold, Call Phone number search bar, and transfer to voicemail mid-call. You can see which features are available for your deployment here. 
While most of the phone system features you can access through Microsoft are the same regardless of your choice of PSTN connectivity, you might notice some potential differences according to your configuration. Microsoft notes call unanswered, forwarding, call transfer, call park, and music on hold functionality are all available for all three voice connectivity options.
However, Direct Routing requires additional steps to configure call routing, and can provide location-based routing. Location-based routing, though only available from some direct routing providers, allows you to restrict toll bypass options in various geographic locations, which may be crucial for certain companies to remain compliant. 
Here are some significant configuration differences between each PSTN option:
If you’re still unsure about the Microsoft 365 Phone System and if it is the solution for you, the company offers a free trial to check out at least some of its features. And you don’t need an IT admin to intervene – here are the steps for trying out the Microsoft 365 Phone System, without going in for a more complex and finalised deployment:
You should now have a working knowledge of the Microsoft 365 Phone System and will be able to get started with a basic deployment. Remember a few key elements:
For companies already using Teams in a big way and starting with telephonic customer support, Microsoft 365 Phone System is an excellent investment. It can scale from a single location outfit to a global entity, adapting to your unique hardware environment as you grow.
Happy calling!
 
 
 
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