7 essentials for top-notch calling quality in Microsoft Teams


April 27, 2023

Microsoft Teams is now the backbone of communication and collaboration for many organizations, with a growing range of integrations that allow businesses to consolidate their processes under one cloud-based platform. Often, one of the final consolidations a company makes within Teams is their business phone system, by migrating their telephony to Microsoft Teams Phone. 

In our recent webinar looking at migrating voice to Teams Phone in regulated industries, Phil Sharp, Microsoft’s Senior Customer Success Manager emphasizes the importance of the planning phase when migrating to Microsoft Teams.

And when it comes to Microsoft Teams Phone, there are things that can be done to optimize media and ensure that calls are clear, reliable, and uninterrupted.  

Phil outlined 7 migration top tips to ensuring Microsoft Teams Phone success and to make sure your real-time calling quality is top-notch.

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#1 - Ensure the correct ports and protocols are open

When lighting up calling in Microsoft Teams, it is important to open ports and protocols to allow for the smooth transmission of audio and video data. By doing so, you can ensure that your calls are not disrupted by network congestion or other issues. Opening ports and protocols can help improve the overall performance of Microsoft Teams, leading to faster response times and improved user experiences.

In highly regulated industries, firewall measures may be enhanced and in order to prevent traffic from Microsoft Teams from being blocked, firewall settings may need to be re-configured to open relevant ports and protocols. 

And finally, make sure those ports and protocols are open to the Internet as well. In the past, when connecting to an on-prem environment that wasn’t required, but in cloud-based scenarios it is essential.  

Click here for details from Microsoft. 

#2 - Bypass proxies

Proxies are often used to improve network performance by caching frequently accessed content and filtering unwanted traffic. And in some scenarios, they act as a trusted intermediary between the user and the internet. But with Microsoft Teams, they don’t enhance security because the traffic from Teams is already encrypted. Instead, they can work against you by introducing latency and adding complexity to the network architecture resulting in dropped calls, poor audio quality, and other issues. 

One example is Layer 7 DPI which monitors networks to examine the contents of each packet to identify and control specific types of traffic. While this technique can be useful for enforcing security policies, it can also negatively impact the performance of real-time communication applications like Microsoft Teams Calling. Layer 7 DPI can introduce delays, increase packet loss, and potentially even block important traffic.

While proxies and DPI can provide benefits in some situations, they are not always the best choice for use with Microsoft Teams calling. In these cases, it is worth considering alternative network configurations to optimize performance and ensure a seamless user experience.

#3 - Implement split tunneling on VPNs

Split tunnelling is a technique that allows you to direct some of your internet traffic through a virtual private network (VPN), while other traffic goes through your regular internet connection.    
VPN solutions are not designed to handle the level of media traffic that gets pushed through Microsoft Teams Phone, especially in hybrid working scenarios. With split tunnelling you can bypass that traffic instead through Microsoft to improve call quality. 

One of the main benefits of split tunnelling for Teams Calling is improved call quality. When you use a VPN all of your internet traffic is routed through the VPN server, which can sometimes result in slower internet speeds and lower call quality. By using split tunnelling, you can direct your Teams call traffic through your regular internet connection, while still keeping your other internet traffic secure through the VPN.

Split tunnelling can also reduce bandwidth usage. Teams calls can consume a lot of bandwidth, which can be an issue if you're on a slow or limited internet connection. By directing Teams Calling traffic through your regular internet connection, you can avoid using up all of your VPN bandwidth and potentially improve call quality.

#4 - Exclude Microsoft Teams from antivirus or security scanning processes

While antivirus and security software is essential in many scenarios, when it comes to Microsoft Teams Phone these programs can cause interference and impact its performance, resulting in call quality issues. 

To get the best call quality in Microsoft Teams it is recommended that you exclude Microsoft from your security and antivirus scans. Microsoft outlines a number of items that can be added to the exclusion list process here. This simple step can make a big difference in your Teams experience and ensure that your calls run smoothly and efficiently.

More details from Microsoft on how to do this is here.

#5 - Take the shortest path to the internet

In Microsoft Teams, calls travel through data packets from the user to Microsoft’s network and to ensure the best possible call quality that route should be the shortest possible. Microsoft Teams will always attempt to send traffic by the shortest possible route, and many Microsoft customers now adopt an ‘internet-first’ approach. That means, avoid routing across WANS and then to the Microsoft network which will impact call quality. 

#6 - Deploy Quality of Service (QoS) where needed

QoS is a network feature that prioritizes certain types of traffic over others and can help improve call quality in Microsoft Teams. It allows real-time network traffic from voice streams, which is sensitive to network delays, to cut in front of less sensitive traffic like file downloads and video streaming, and gives it a dedicated portion of network bandwidth. This helps ensure that there's enough bandwidth available for Teams calls, resulting in clearer audio and video.
QoS is a useful tool if you are backhauling traffic or have peer to peer communications within your Teams environment. QoS acts as a safety net to ensure traffic gets to where it needs to go in a timely fashion. 

Here's Microsoft's instructions on how to implement QoS.

#7 – Leverage local DNS resolution

Microsoft Teams has become an essential tool for many organizations, providing a reliable and efficient way for teams to communicate and collaborate remotely. However, to ensure that Teams runs smoothly and without any connectivity issues, it's important to leverage local DNS resolution.

Local DNS resolution is the process of resolving domain names to IP addresses within a local network, rather than relying on external DNS servers. By doing so, organizations can reduce network latency and improve network performance, resulting in a better Teams experience.

One of the key benefits of leveraging local DNS resolution for Teams is that it reduces the dependency on external DNS servers, which can be slow and unreliable. This is particularly important when dealing with real-time communication tools like Teams, where even minor delays can impact the quality of calls and video conferences.

To ensure that traffic gets to Microsoft as quickly as possible, DNS resolution can allow you to direct traffic to Microsoft peering points globally. 

Hear more from Phil in Pure IP's recent Coffee Club event



Tania Morrill

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