If you are using Microsoft 365, you may not realize that it includes a brilliant client application called Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams provides the ability for you organization to engage in chat, file sharing and co-editing, internal video calling and much more. It can be your single communication and collaboration hub. Except for one thing. You cannot easily connect and communicate with people outside of your organization using the telephone network or PSTN. 

Today you probably use a phone system - whether a premise based PBX or even a cloud PBX - to make and receive phone calls and access voce mail. Depending on how old, it may no longer be supported or upgradeable. If new, it may include some chat and collaboration tools. But it would still be a separate platform from the one running all your business applications like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. 

What if there were a way to replace that PBX and bring all your communications together? Well you can. You actually have two options with Microsoft 365. You can use Microsoft Calling Plans - which are not inexpensive and charged per user - or you can use Direct Routing. (Check our menu for where we explain Microsoft Calling Plans and Business voice or click the links on this page.)

Microsoft Laptop iPhone Yealink phone easy intelligent calling

What is Direct Routing?

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. 

What are SIP trunks?

SIP trunks or, more correctly, channels, have been around for a while now. They are similar to the traditional analogue and digital trunks connected to older phone systems, except they use your internet connection to bring in PSTN calls. You pay by the number of channels and DIDs (telephone numbers) you need. You can have toll-free numbers as well. 

A major difference to traditional trunks is that it is much easier and faster to increase or decrease the number of channels you use. Perhaps more importantly, SIP channels support something called 'bursting', where you can dynamically increase channel capacity to handle a temporary increase in call traffic. (On older systems it could take up to 6 weeks working with your Telco to get change your trunks - and then it would have to be for a minimum period, usually a year.) 

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