Operator Connect is now generally available to any Microsoft Teams Admin who would like to add external PSTN calling to Teams using a third party carrier. In this step by step walkthrough, we will explain how to prepare for the deployment of your phone numbers in Teams using Operator Connect.
Adding your preferred operator(s)
Operator Connect is accessed from directly within your Teams Admin Center, and offers voice services from 22 different providers, including Pure IP, covering over 50 countries. To view the full list of operators, navigate to the Voice option in the left hand menu, then select Operators. You will then be able to filter through them based on region using the dropdown at the top.
To add an operator, select them, select the countries you are interested in, then provide your contact information and accept the data transfer notices. Once you have clicked ‘Add as my operator’, they will be saved to your tenant. However, it is important to note, that at this stage you have not contracted any voice services from the operator. The operator will contact you separately with their pricing and terms and conditions. You will also need to provide them with your tenant ID, which you can find by following these instructions.
Only after you have added them as an operator and talked to them offline, can they provision the phone numbers you need.
Once your operator has provisioned your phone numbers, they will appear in the Phone Numbers tab. This screen shows the phone numbers that you have provisioned from carriers in Operator Connect, or have purchased directly from Microsoft (Calling Plans and service numbers). You can look at the Number Provider column to see which operator has provided those numbers.
Note that, unlike with Direct Routing numbers, Operator Connect numbers must be provisioned at the tenant level, so make sure you tell your operator which numbers are for users, and which will be for call queues (indicated here by Voice App in the Number Usage column) before they are provisioned.
If you will be migrating existing Direct Routing numbers to Operator Connect, please be aware that there are some special considerations to take into account. Get in touch to find out how Pure IP can help you have a smooth migration >
Everything that follows is similar or identical to the steps you would follow if you were adding new numbers from Microsoft, such as through Microsoft Calling Plans.
Adding your emergency locations
Before you can assign any of your numbers to users, you must first add your emergency locations to your tenant and assign your numbers to an address.
- In the Locations section of the left-hand navigation pane, select the Emergency addresses tab
- Add the full address, as well as the longitude and latitude for each of your office locations.
- Once the address has been added, you can then assign your phone numbers to the relevant office. To view all the numbers assigned to that address, simply click into the address.
- Optional - Add the floors of each location into the ‘Places’ tab, and associate numbers, subnets, and Wi-Fi access points to those floors. Taking advantage of this option means that, assuming you have a different IP address on each floor, then even if your users are hotdesking between floors, their emergency address will be updated because the Teams client routinely checks which subnet and IP address they are using.
What about remote workers?
Emergency services are currently not compatible with residential locations, however Teams will know that the user is on an unknown IP address, and so that user will be dynamically assigned the call policies and permissions associated to being on an external IP.
Configuring your settings & policies
Although you will be able to give your users basic dial tone functionality once the number has been provisioned and given an emergency location, you will not get the most out of your new telephone system until you have configured the additional settings and policies that are available.
Configure your network topology
Adding subnets and Wi-Fi access points by configuring these sections adds useful details to the emergency locations database you built in the Admin Center earlier. For example, you can add a subnet to a location to indicate which IP address links to the site.
That’s useful for a number of reasons, including for Media bypass, dynamic emergency services, location based routing, and local optimization. Local optimization for example, checks which subnet the user is currently on and links them to their local SBC, so that their voice traffic has to make fewer hops over the internet.
There are compliance reasons to configure your network topology too; in India, for example, calls must break out to the PSTN in India. A user in India should not be able to call their European office over IP and then break out into the PSTN. In order to ensure compliance with these sorts of regulations, you have to be able to accurately identify the users in the India office, and restrict their permissions with location based routing.
It is also beneficial if you are operating in a hybrid working environment, with users coming and going between the office and their homes. When users are working remotely, Teams will recognize that they are not in the office, and so it will route their voice traffic up to 365. When they return to the office, Teams will see that they have connected to the IP address associated to one of your office addresses, and will then be able to use Media Bypass to route their voice traffic through your local SBC.
Caller ID policies
The policies detailed within the Caller ID policies tab are all about call masking and defining whether a user’s DDI is visible or not. You can configure these settings to replace the caller ID with a service number or make it completely anonymous.
In most cases where you are masking a user’s DDI with a service number, you will be using a call queue number (set up as a Voice App number), so that callers ring back on a general number that can be picked up by an operative from that call queue. Simply select the relevant number from the list.
These policies essentially function as user permissions. You should configure these ahead of deployment, to ensure that users and teams are afforded the correct calling privileges.
The settings that are available in this section include enabling music on hold, making private calls, voicemail, call forwarding, and allowing users to dial using the web browser.
Auto-attendants and call queues
Configure all the necessary settings for your auto-attendants and call queues, including the call flows, define the opening hours, and what behavior should happen during holidays.
Assigning calling policies to your users
Once the call policies have been set up and you are ready to deploy, these are then assigned on a user by user basis. To edit the policies that are assigned to any given user, navigate to the Users section of the admin center, select the relevant user, click Policies, then edit. A dialog will appear on the right with a long list of drop down fields where you can select from the policies that you have already defined.
To do this in bulk, you can use scripts in PowerShell. You will need the details of the user names and the list of policies you would like to assign to them, and the script will essentially go through the manual process set out above for you.
How to assign numbers to users
You have now provisioned your numbers from the operator, assigned an emergency location to each number, created all of the policies you need and assigned them to each user, and you are ready to assign your numbers to your users.
To do that, go to the Phone numbers tab, then select the relevant number and click edit at the top of the screen. This will open up a dialog that allows you to assign a user and an emergency location to the number.
Similarly, to unassign a number, select the relevant number and click release at the top of the screen. This will then unassign the user and remove all of their configuration from that number.
As with assigning calling policies, if you would like to complete this in bulk, you can use scripts in PowerShell.
If you need some help setting up Operator Connect, or you aren't sure how to get started - get in touch with our team of experts. We're always happy to answer any questions and talk through your options >
Alessandra joined Pure IP as the Content and Communications Manager in early 2020, after 5 years within the cinema technology sector.