How To Enable Microsoft Teams PSTN Connectivity

How To Enable Microsoft Teams PSTN Connectivity

If you’re planning to use Microsoft Teams for external PSTN calling, it’s now more than possible, thanks to the Teams Phone license, and PSTN enablement options like Direct Routing, Operator Connect, Microsoft Calling Plan, and Teams Phone Mobile

In this guide, we’re going to answer your most frequently asked questions about enabling PSTN connectivity in Microsoft Teams. 

  1. Can you connect a landline to Teams? 
  2. Can Microsoft Teams replace a phone system?  
  3. How to enable PSTN in Teams   
  4. How do I transfer my landline to Teams?   
  5. What are the disadvantages of Teams Phone System?   

1. Can you connect a landline to Teams? 

Yes, you can now use Microsoft Teams as your phone system. That means you can use your landline numbers to make and receive external PSTN calls. 

You can either choose to get new numbers from Microsoft, port your existing numbers to the Microsoft cloud, or integrate your existing phone system with Teams so Teams becomes the dialer. 

Inside your Teams interface, you get a dialpad, contact directory, call log, and voicemail. 

Microsoft Teams dialpad

Can I make a regular phone call from Teams? 

Yes. When Teams Phone is enabled for any Teams user (and they have a PSTN calling method applied), you can make a regular phone call from Teams. 

To do so, navigate to the Calls menu in the left-hand menu pane. 

Microsoft Teams Phone adds a dialpad, voicemail, history, and contacts

Here you have options like: 

  • Contacts: Call a stored phone system contact 
  • History: Return recent missed, dialed, or received calls 
  • Voicemail: Access new and saved messages 
  • Dialpad: Make a call by dialing the number 

Just like using any other softphone app, you can make, receive, and return calls using Teams as the front-end interface. An ideal scenario if you’re already using Teams for collaboration and meetings. 

2. Can Microsoft Teams replace a phone system? 

Yes, Microsoft Teams is now a genuine replacement option for your system. 

Teams can replace your phone system in the following scenarios: 

  • You have a standard desk phone setup and need a PSTN/calling provider. 
  • You use Teams for collaboration and meetings and need to centralize your PSTN connectivity too. 
  • You have a distributed teams inclusive of frontline workers and in-office employees. 

However, if your goal is total feature parity with your previous phone system, Teams might not be a suitable phone system replacement. There are a number of traditional PBX features that Teams doesn’t yet support. 

These include: 

  • Fax (available via third-party integration) 
  • SMS (available via third-party integration and partly in the USA)  
  • Line keys 
  • Configurable prefix codes 
  • Unrestricted native SIPA 

But you do get all the basic features and even most of the advanced features you’ve come to associate with a cloud PBX: 

  • Make, receive, and transfer calls 
  • Auto attendant 
  • Call queues 
  • Voicemail 
  • Music on hold 
  • Call forwarding 
  • Emergency calling 
  • Location-based routing 

Teams now even has its own native call center and contact center options. Again, these may not represent total feature parity with your existing app. It’s always advisable to conduct your due diligence and capture your business requirements. 

Use the MoSCoW scoring method to determine whether Teams satisfies what you actually use and need: 

  • Must: Business-critical features you use every day and need to function. 
  • Should: Near-critical that would inconvenience some user if you don’t have. 
  • Could: Nice-to-haves that you could live without. 
  • Won’t Have Yet: Blue-sky requirements that you can’t yet implement anyway. 

Be realistic here, too. Anecdotally, when was the last time you paged someone? If the answer is that your company uses this all the time, then fine. But, in a lot of cases, PBX functionality of yesteryear is often replaced by more modern features like presence and chat. 

3. How to enable PSTN in Teams 

First, you need to make sure you have the appropriate licensing. 

Here’s everything you’ll need to make a PSTN call in Teams: 

  • Teams Phone license 
  • A PSTN calling method (Direct Routing, Operator Connect, Calling Plan, Teams Phone Mobile) 
  • Phone numbers (new or ported in from your existing carrier) 

Once procured, you can assign Teams Phone licenses on a user-by-user basis or in bulk. 

Once assigned, you must choose a calling method.  

Adding a calling method 

You can add Microsoft Calling Plan by bundling it with your Teams Phone license. This supports basic calling requirements means Microsoft is your operator.  

You pay Microsoft for both the Phone license and the Calling minutes. There is no need for a third-party calling carrier like BT or Gamma. Everything is hosted in the Microsoft cloud. There is no need for any on-premises infrastructure. 

For more complex setups, choose Operator Connect, Direct Routing, or Teams Phone Mobile. 

Here are some resources to help you work out which is best for you: 

Once you’ve chosen your calling method, it’s time to add your numbers to your Teams PBX. Depending on which route you take, numbers will be physically stored in different places. 

4. How do I transfer my landline to Teams? 

If you have existing phone numbers you wish to retain when enabling Teams PSTN connectivity, you must port start a porting order. 

Porting is the process of transferring a telephone number (or batch of numbers) from one telephone operator to another. For example, you’re currently with AT&T for your landline numbers but wish to move them all to Microsoft. 

Once “set up”, you will need to port your existing numbers to the Microsoft cloud. This is done via the Teams Admin Center (TAC). Here, you have the option to add new, manage existing, and port existing phone numbers. 

A “port order” requires the following information: 

  • Order name 
  • Recipient of notifications email address 
  • Desired date of transfer 
  • Phone number details 
  • Port type (full or partial) 
  • Your organization name  
  • Current provider’s details 
  • Billing telephone number in E.164 format 
  • Name of your current service provider 
  • Account number with current service provider 
  • Service address 

Without all these details, you’re not ready to start a port order. It’s important to note at this stage that the details you provide must match the records of your losing provider. 

Failure to match records on both new and old systems means your porting order will get rejected. 

When your numbers appear in the TAC, you can assign numbers to each user, ready for the day of transfer.  

Emergency calling 

A non-negotiable requirement is that emergency calling must be enabled. If you’ve chosen Operator Connect or Direct Routing, your provider will likely have taken care of this for you – but do confirm! 

If you’re setting up emergency calling for your organization, Microsoft has detailed exactly what’s needed

Customization options 

Once your users have a Teams Phone license, a calling method, and their numbers assigned, you have some optional extras to walk through: 

In some businesses, these might be the must-haves outlined when requirements gathering. Getting familiar with the TAC is strongly advisable before you go live. Most of your setup items and future changes will happen here. 

Microsoft Teams Admin Center

What are the options for PSTN connectivity in Microsoft Teams Phone System? 

There are now four options to choose from when selecting your PSTN connectivity: 

  • Calling Plan: Microsoft’s retail cloud calling product, available via the TAC. 
  • Direct Routing: When Microsoft supports connecting session border controllers (SBCs) to Teams. This could either be your own SBC or a vendor’s environment.   
  • Operator Connect: When carriers are approved by Microsoft to provide direct cloud calling accessvia Microsoft Teams. 
  • Teams Phone Mobile: When your business mobile number replaces your traditional fixed business line and becomes the only phone number you need. 

To aid your decision, Microsoft has created this useful chart: 

Choosing between Teams Calling Plan, Operator Connect, Direct Routing, and Teams Phone Mobile

5. What are the disadvantages of Teams Phone System? 

When moving to any new phone system provider, it’s important to fully understand what you’re getting into. That’s why we flag all possibilities (good and bad) when someone begins their journey to Teams Phone. 

All your eggs are in one basket 

While a single bill and a single company to lean on for support, sometimes moving all your telecoms infrastructure into one place can have an adverse impact. 

If, for example, the Teams infrastructure suffers an outage, both your internal collaboration ability and your external calling capabilities are down. Of course, this applies when you go all-in with any provider, not just Microsoft. 

You’re also tied to a large provider whose feature roadmap isn’t so heavily influenced by customers. Unlike when you choose a fairly small phone provider, when you may request specific functionality and they do everything to keep you happy, Microsoft is unlikely to roll out or speed up a feature for the minority of customer. 

It does, however, run a Microsoft Teams feedback portal, where customers can ask peers for help and make specific requests to Microsoft. This replaces the popular “User Voice” forum, which did sometimes influence feature releases within Microsoft. 

Requesting features from Microsoft

Users can upvote other people’s posts, like the functionality of Reddit. The more upvotes, the higher the placement of the post in the feed. The higher in the feed, the more likely Microsoft is to look into your request. 

Teams Phone SLAs are a little confusing 

The quoted SLA for Teams Phone is now 99.999%. On the face of it, this sounds great and is on par with all the major telephony providers. Just look at the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS and note every provider also reports the same SLA. 

Teams Phone SLA uptime guarantee

However, all is not quite as it seems. There was quite the online uproar when Microsoft announced its new SLA, with some doubting the validity of its claims. 

In an article for NoJitter, Melissa Schwartz broke down exactly when 99.999% applies. 

Subscription date limitations 

  • If your subscription term began before April 1, 2024, your SLA will be whatever was in effect at that time. 
  • The new Teams Phone 99.999% uptime SLA will not apply until you renew. 

Azure Communication Gateway limitations 

  • The Azure Communication Gateway is the supporting infrastructure for Operator Connect and Teams Phone Mobile. 
  • Azure Communication Gateway services will only support 99.99% SLA (as of May 2024). 
  • If your number was originally provisioned on the Azure Communication Gateway, the same 99.99% uptime will apply even if you move it. 

Voice quality only comes with a 99.9% SLA 

  • 99.999% does not apply to voice calls, only the Teams Phone service (except Operator Connect and Teams Phone Mobile as above). 
  • 99.9% only applies when calls are made using Microsoft-certified IP phones. 
  • 99.9% only applies when calls are made using a wired ethernet connection (so calls over wireless connections, like home users, aren’t included in this SLA). 
  • Packet loss, jitter and latency issues on the call were due to networks managed by Microsoft. 
Microsoft Teams Phone SLA

Conclusion: Teams PSTN connectivity is right for you if… 

  • You’re already using Teams for collaboration and meetings 
  • You don’t have intricate PBX features that are a must-have, but aren’t supported by Teams PBX 
  • You’ve read and understand the Teams Phone SLA. 

Ultimately, if you’re reading this blog post, your interest is already there. Your decision isn’t should I use Teams for phone and PSTN, but it’s which method of PSTN connectivity is right for me? 

At Callroute, we have this conversation with customers at least once a day. To help you in your journey to achieving Teams PSTN connectivity, here is some recommended reading: 

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Intermittent Microsoft Teams calling issues reported globally. This issue appears to be affecting all Microsoft customers worldwide. Microsoft are currently investigating the issue. All Callroute systems are fully operational. More information will be provided as soon as possible.