If you are using Microsoft 365, you can replace your PBX by using either Microsoft Calling Plans, Business Voice or Direct Routing with Microsoft Teams. We talk about Business Voice here and Direct Routing here, and will concentrate on Calling Plans on this page.

To connect to people outside of your organization you traditionally have used a PBX or phone system that can connect to the PSTN. While Microsoft Teams can be the hub for all of your communications, by default, it cannot connect to the PSTN. There are additional costs to add that connectivity. 

Microsoft breaks down these costs into three items, which are additional Addon licenses - Phone, Calling Plan and Audio-Conferencing. 

The Phone license is required to add the Phone feature functionality into Microsoft Teams. However, you still can't call in or out to the PSTN as you have no DID nor calling minutes. (If you have a Microsoft Enterprise E5 license it includes the Phone license.)

Calling Plans add a DID (phone number for people to reach you) and a package of calling minutes, either 3,000 or 120 minutes per month and Domestic (Canada and USA) or Domestic and International calling. These are pooled minutes per tenant.

Finally, if you need to set up audio conferences you will also require the Audio-Conferencing Addon license that allows conferences up to 250 people.

(Note: If you have less than 300 licenses and are using or could use a Microsoft 365 Business license, all three of these Addons are bundled into the single Business Voice Addon license)

Microsoft Laptop iPhone Yealink phone easy intelligent calling

What are Calling Plans?

Microsoft developed a way for other companies to bring PSTN calling into Microsoft Teams. This is Direct Routing. Providers, like Unity Connected Solutions, provide a Microsoft certified Session Border Controller (SBC) and SIP trunks equipped with DID numbers so that calls can go directly to your staff using their Microsoft Team's client. 

Unity Connected Solutions charges for Direct Routing on an organization level. We charge for SIP Channels connected to your Microsoft 365 tenant - much the same way you would connect trunks to your PBX. For organizations with more than say, 50 users, the cost of Microsoft Calling Plans, which are charged per user, far exceed the costs of Direct Routing. Microsoft Calling Plans do not allow pooling of the calling minutes and only have one plan option from which to select. 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a client that users of Microsoft 365 have access. By adding a Microsoft Phone license, a DID and the means to make or receive PSTN calls, the Microsoft Teams client can replace your normal telephone set. With a quality headset, your laptop (or mobile phone) and Microsoft Teams become your phone system.

On the left hand Microsoft Teams sidebar there is a small phone icon called Calls. Once you add the Microsoft Phone license to Microsoft Teams, a dial pad becomes visible. This indicates you now have the Phone feature. If your organization has also set up Direct Routing or Calling Plans, you are now able to make and receive calls here. You can add users to your contact folder, see call history, access voice mail and much more.

Phone Features

You may be wondering if Microsoft Teams can truly displace your PBX - does it have enough functionality? The answer is yes. 

We have to understand that the way we communicate has changed, especially when we have access to tools like Microsoft Teams. Many phone systems can't offer the same level of collaboration capabilities that are replacing PSTN phone calls. So many PBX features which were necessary and essential 20 years ago, are not so important today. For example, built-in presence, chat and file-sharing.

Notwithstanding that Microsoft Teams supports a wide variety of features including Automated Attendant, Call Park and Pickup, Call Forwarding, DND, Call Blocking, Distinctive Ringing, Speed Dial, Call Queues, IVR, Shared Line Appearances and more.

Devices, Rooms and Meetings

Microsoft Teams supports a wide variety of devices.

Headsets: Staff equipped with a laptop or mobile phone and their Microsoft Teams client simply need a headset to engage in PSTN calls (or video calls.) A good voice quality headset should be used. Our primary offer are from Jabra that are not only engineered for the highest quality but are also Microsoft certified. They come in a variety of form factors - over the ear, in the ear, on the ear; mono or stereo; wired or wireless and more.

Handsets: Yes, Microsoft Teams supports SIP standard telephone handsets. Unity offers handsets from Yealink as the primary handset with Microsoft Teams as they have great features at an incredible price. You may have areas like lobbies or meeting rooms that require a handset for guests, staff or for emergency situations. 

Room Systems: One are where Microsoft Teams excels is in handling meetings. Meetings can be enhanced with real-time translation, options for displaying video attendees, connecting remote users and those in a meeting room and the ability to share a whiteboard. People can be automatically joined to a meeting taking place in a conference room upon entering the room or using a device to connect to the in-room meeting without physically touching the controller. We offer room based systems from Logitech, who are currently leading this space and Jabra.

Logitech Microsoft Teams Room System