Post-PSTN telephony: The four approaches to Teams Phone adoption

Posted by Steve Brown on Apr 26, 2024 11:16:18 AM
Post-PSTN telephony: The four approaches to Teams Phone adoption
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The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) switch-off in the UK presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. This transition, set to be completed by 2025, will undoubtedly have a significant impact on how companies communicate and operate. 

One of the primary concerns is the potential disruption to existing telephone services. The PSTN switch-off means that traditional landline phones, fax machines, and other legacy devices that rely on the PSTN will no longer function. Businesses will need to migrate to alternative, IP-based communication solutions, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or cloud-based phone systems. 

This change can be particularly daunting for smaller businesses or those with limited IT resources. Adapting to the new technology and ensuring a seamless transition can require significant time, effort, and financial investment. Businesses will need to assess their current infrastructure, evaluate the available alternatives, and develop a comprehensive migration plan to avoid service interruptions and maintain business continuity. 

However, the PSTN switch-off also presents opportunities for businesses to enhance their communication capabilities. The transition to IP-based systems can enable features like unified communications, video conferencing, and advanced call routing, which can improve collaboration, customer service, and overall operational efficiency. Additionally, cloud-based phone solutions can offer increased flexibility, scalability, and cost savings compared to traditional on-premises systems. 

Launched in the last few months, Teams Phone offers an attractive post-PSTN solution. It offers significant business benefits that can enhance productivity, streamline operations, and improve collaboration within an organisation. By integrating phone capabilities directly into the Teams platform, businesses can consolidate their communication tools, allowing employees to access voice, video, chat, and file-sharing functionalities in a single, familiar interface. 

Moreover Teams Phone enables workers to make and receive calls from any device, whether they are in the office, at home, or on the go, promoting flexibility and responsiveness. And compared to traditional on-premises phone systems, Teams Phone's cloud-based model can result in lower upfront costs and reduced maintenance expenses for businesses. 

Sound good? We certainly think so. But here’s the really important stuff: there are four key ways you can integrate Teams Phone with your existing telephony setup.  

Calling plans 

The simplest approach when it comes to configure and setup, Microsoft Calling Plans are provided on a per-user, per-month basis and consist of a phone number for inbound calls and a bundle of minutes for outbound calls.  

Businesses can choose domestic or international calling plans, and Microsoft acts as the PSTN carrier, providing the connection from its phone system to the public telephony network.  

Crucially, you need to have both the Teams phone licence and a further add-on licence –either ‘pay as you go’ or some kind of bundle – to use Calling Plans. As a result, this option can end up being quite costly. 

Direct routing 

This is the most technical approach but means businesses retain more control over their telephony infrastructure. It involves connecting Microsoft’s Phone System to the public telephony network by sourcing a SIP trunk from a carrier.  

Unlike Microsoft Calling Plans, direct routing allows organisations to request tailored solutions from (certified) providers that meet their exacting carrier and coverage needs. This means they’re typically cheaper and more flexible than Microsoft’s somewhat limited options. 

Direct routing via a third-party 

Specialist providers offer a fully managed direct routing service that can include everything from planning and implementing migration to employee training and support.   

The provider will help obtain the necessary licences and configure Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to route calls from Microsoft Phone System to the public telephony network. And if you want to keep your phone numbers, they can also port DID (direct inward dialling)/DDI (direct dial-in) phone numbers from the incumbent carrier. 

Operator Connect 

Microsoft Operator Connect allows businesses to make calls on Teams while using their existing phone service instead of an alternative online connection. Worth noting that currently only certain operators offer this – you can find the full list on the Teams admin centre. 

Customers can either connect their existing phone numbers to Microsoft Teams or obtain new numbers. They can also manage their calling plans and configure their call routing from within Teams itself. This option is particularly popular with IT administrators as it’s quick to deploy, everything is managed from one place, and numbers can be easily assigned without the need to contact external providers. There’s also the additional benefit of operator-managed infrastructure and support. 

Call it a winner 

By proactively addressing the PSTN switch-off and embracing technological advancements such as Teams Phone, UK businesses can position themselves for improved communication, enhanced productivity, and increased competitiveness in the digital landscape. 

For more information on adding Teams Phone to your Microsoft 365 licence or navigating your business telephony needs post-PSTN, speak to the experts at FluidOne today. 

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