Microsoft announced during their keynote at Enterprise Connect in September 2021 that Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams had officially gone into general availability. If you are curious what that means for you, your business, and calling in Teams - read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What is Operator Connect?
Operator Connect is one of three options available for enabling external calling via Microsoft Teams, alongside Direct Routing and Microsoft Calling Plans. It allows organizations to provision their voice services from third parties like Pure IP, from directly within the Teams Admin Center. The service uses the Microsoft Azure Peering Service (MAPS) to enable direct links between the carriers’ own network and the Microsoft data center through trusted cross-connects. This helps to ensure a high quality of service and reliability as your voice traffic travels between Microsoft’s network and the provider’s network, and minimizes the need for complex configuration.
What calling features does Operator Connect offer?
Operator Connect offers calling features that will meet most organizations’ requirements and is on par with Direct Routing. The only time you might opt for Direct Routing based on calling features, is if you require more complex routing options.
What global coverage is available on Operator Connect?
Operator Connect is available in over 50 countries, which is roughly double what is available using Calling Plans. Comparing it to Direct Routing, and speaking from Pure IP’s perspective, there is no difference between the global coverage we offer on Operator Connect versus Direct Routing. That means our full PSTN replacement services are available in 42 countries on Operator Connect, more than any other provider! We can even offer a Managed Session Border Controller (SBC) Service to accommodate voice services in more regions, including some of those harder to reach countries.
How do you provision phone numbers?
The provisioning of new services is relatively straightforward. It starts with adding your chosen provider in the Teams Admin Center, and then communicating directly with them to get a quote. When the order has been placed and the numbers are available, the provider loads them into your Admin Center. Once you have added your office addresses, you will then be able to assign your numbers to users.
Existing Pure IP Operator Connect customers can order additional numbers online, so you can activate them as they are needed, with no need to wait for a quote.
What does Operator Connect cost?
This will depend on which provider you choose to provide your voice services, as they can charge different prices, as well as use different pricing models. The key thing to be aware of is that the provider – not Microsoft - sets the rates and will invoice you directly. Although some providers are charging a premium for Operator Connect, at Pure IP we have always preferred transparency, which is why we use the same rates, and the same “pay for what you use” model for Operator Connect as Direct Routing. This approach is very popular with customers and can be up to 60% more cost effective than call bundles.
How do you migrate your voice services?
Migrating existing numbers into Teams using Operator Connect is not much different than it would be with Direct Routing. However, if you are migrating from Direct Routing to Operator Connect, the process needs to be carefully managed to avoid downtime. Don’t worry though, we have a guide we provide our customers with as part of the onboarding process to walk you through the process.
Can Operator Connect support mixed environments?
It is common for most companies who are migrating their voice services to Teams to have other communications platforms co-exist for a time, or legacy systems and devices they need to connect. It is worth checking with your chosen provider how they can help you overcome this challenge so you can avoid having multiple infrastructures to manage.
At Pure IP we have the capabilities to connect with many different platforms, and our SIP endpoint based solution, SIP Connect, can connect legacy systems and devices to your cloud environment.
Alessandra joined Pure IP as the Content and Communications Manager in early 2020, after 5 years within the cinema technology sector.