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All You Need To Know About Microsoft Teams Shared Calling 

At Ignite 2024, Microsoft announced the general availability of Shared Calling for Microsoft Teams, but what is it, and how can you benefit from it? 

What is Microsoft Teams Shared Calling? 

Shared Calling is the ability to enable outbound calling for multiple Teams users using a single phone number and calling plan. 

To discover what Shared Calling can do, you need to first need to understand how Microsoft connects PSTN voice services to Teams.  

You have 3 options: 

  1. Microsoft Calling Plans: you buy your calling minutes and phone number directly from Microsoft and they provide your calling service. 
  1. Operator Connect: you buy your calling minutes and phone number directly from a service provider, like Verizon, and it connects its calling service to Microsoft via the cloud. 
  1. Direct Routing: where you have an existing service provider connected to your telephony gateway and you connect this to Teams yourself. 

Shared Calling is a feature available only with Microsoft Calling Plans. Well, technically it can be achieved another way, more on that later… 

Microsoft Calling Plans vs Shared Calling 

Microsoft Calling Plan Shared Calling 
Billed per user per month Share one calling plan with many users 
Bundles of 120, 1,200, or 3,000 Share minutes from a single calling plan 
Each user is assigned a landline number Users share a common outbound calling ID but have no direct inbound calling number 
Good value if users need regular direct 1:1 calling with customers Good value if your users require infrequent access to make a phone call 
Bad value if users are only occasional voice users that have no direct or regular customer interactions Bad value if your users begin to overuse 
Beneficial for lots of high call volume users Beneficial for providing global emergency calling and for users who may need to make infrequent calls 
Borrow minutes from other users You can borrow minutes from other calling plans, or use pay-as-you-go to control costs 
Every user needs a calling plan and location policy dictates emergency services calling Every user needs a Teams Phone Standard license  

With Microsoft Calling Plans, you buy a plan per user per month. Within this plan, a user can benefit from bundled minutes (120, 1,200, and 3,000) and obtain a phone number of their choosing.  

Assigning the calling plan to a user allows them to consume these minutes. When a calling plan minute bundle has been consumed, a user can ‘borrow’ unused minutes from other calling plans within the same matching product SKU that may be assigned to other users, until the end of the month, when the bundles reset. 

On the face of it, allowing users to borrow unused minutes from other calling plans seems like good value. Certainly, from high-volume callers’ perspective, it is, but most users within your organization won’t be high-volume callers. 

For occasional users who would like to make phone calls, buying a calling plan, even the lowest 120-minute domestic plan can be poor value for money. Until now, this has been your only option if you are a Microsoft Calling Plan customer and needed to provide outbound calling. 

If your health and safety policy mandates that every user must be capable of calling the emergency services from their desktop, you would need a calling plan for every user. 

How Shared Calling for Teams is Different 

Shared Calling for Microsoft Teams now enables Calling Plan customers to share minutes from a single calling plan with unlimited Teams users. 

This is a game changer for Microsoft Calling Plan customers, who, until now, have been locked into a relatively expensive proposition versus what is available on the open market.  

Using Shared Calling, you buy one calling plan and then enable any number of users licensed for Teams Phone Standard to consume those minutes from the plan. Before, you needed to buy one calling plan per user to enable outbound calling. 

What are the gotchas with Shared Calling? 

First, shared calling is an outbound calling feature. This enables users with no direct dial number to make outbound calls using minutes purchased within the calling plan. 

There is no direct dial inward solution to those users. This means that users enabled for Shared Calling won’t receive a unique phone number of their own. External customers will not be able to call the user directly. If users need this ability, a calling plan will need to be purchased for that user. 

Instead, the Shared Calling number must be assigned to an auto attendant. The auto attendant acts like a switchboard for external callers who dial the shared number assigned to users. When called, the caller can say or enter the extension number of the Teams user to be connected to them. 

To enable extension dialing in Teams, you’ll need to configure extension numbers in Entra ID using the phone attribute field. This will need to be in a specific format e.g. X1234 (where 1234 is the user’s extension).  

Extension dialing in Microsoft Teams

To benefit from Shared Calling, each user must be licensed for Teams Phone Standard. This is included in Office 365 E5 and a paid add on to other plans. Microsoft Teams Premium alone is also not a qualifying license. 

At present, Shared Calling can only be configured and enabled using PowerShell. Functionality doesn’t yet exist in the Teams Admin Center (as of November 2023). However, you can expect this will be resolved soon. 

Shared Calling works with bundled minute and pay-as-you-go plans. You will need to ensure that you have funds in your Communication Credits license wallet to pay for calls that are out of plan. 

Prerequisites for Shared Calling in Teams 

Below is a list of prerequisite raw materials to add to your shopping cart for shared calling: 

  1. 1 x Teams Phone Resource Account License 
  1. 1 x Calling Plan (120, 1200, 3000 Domestic, or 600 minute international, or PAYG) 
  1. Funds added to your communication credits license if out-of-plan calls are to be permitted 
  1. 1 x Teams Resource Account created 
  1. 1 x Auto-Attendant created  
  1. 1 x Service number acquired from Microsoft in the geography you require 

How to configure Shared Calling for Teams 

Now you have purchased your prerequisites, you’re ready to set up Shared Calling. First, you will need to create a resource account for your auto attendant. You can do this from the Teams Admin Center. 

Creating a resource account for your auto attendant to configure shared calling for Microsoft Teams

Now that your resource account has been created, go to Entra ID and license that account with the Teams Phone Resource license and a calling plan. 

Licensing an account with Microsoft Teams Shared Calling

Once licensed, go back to Teams Admin Center and attach the service phone number you want to use as your Shared Calling number to the resource account. 

Adding a phone number to a calling plan in Microsoft Teams

Now create the Shared Calling auto attendant and attach the resource account to the attendant application.  

Creating a Microsoft Teams shared calling auto attendant

You may wish to enable search by voice for incoming callers to find the person they want to speak with. How you configure your attendant is up to you. You can create different menu options, automatically play a recorded message, route to a call queue, or a person. Or you can simply have the attendant do nothing.  

Whatever you decide, an attendant must be created. This is mandatory. 

Make sure to add your resource account to the attendant before you save it.  

Once the auto attendant is created, you need to assign a location for emergency calling. While this may not be used in the UK, this is required in many other countries where the location of the caller is passed to the emergency call center. Therefore, it is a mandatory step. 

To do this you need to use the Teams PowerShell module. Assuming you’ve successfully connected to your tenant, type the following command and copy the LocationID of the address you want to assign to your Shared Calling account. 

Command to add to the address you wish to enable Microsoft Teams Shared Calling

Now, use PowerShell again to set this location against the shared calling number you assigned to your auto attendant resource account using this command: 

Now, use PowerShell again to set this location against the shared calling number you assigned to your auto attendant resource account using this command: 

Important: Check your Global Online Voice Routing Policy in your tenant. Make sure that it isn’t using any PSTN Usages. If it is, then you need to create a new Online Voice Routing Policy that doesn’t have any PSTN Usages assigned. Then, assign this new policy to your Shared Calling users.  

If your Global policy does not have any PSTN Usages assigned, you can use this. 

Now you must configure your emergency call back solution. When users make a call to the emergency services without configuration, the caller identity displayed to the emergency operative will be the number assigned to the shared calling auto attendant. 

In some countries, it is a legal requirement for phone providers to supply a method for the emergency operative to call back the caller in cases where they are cut off. Regardless of legal status, it is best practice to implement this wherever you are.  

Without configuration, the operative won’t be able to reach the user who made the call, instead will be connected to the Shared Calling auto attendant. 

You may configure an operator on the auto attendant, but this will waste valuable time as the operator, if they do answer, may not know about the emergency or who made the call. In a life and death scenario, this could be pivotal to the outcome. 

To mitigate this, you should add emergency call back numbers to your Shared Calling Policy. These numbers must exist and not be used by another user or service or shared policy in your tenant and be of the same provider i.e. Microsoft numbers. 

When an emergency call is made, Teams will select a number from the list of assigned call back numbers within the shared calling policy and present that number instead of the Shared Calling auto attendant number to the emergency call center operative. 

This number is then reserved for 60 minutes and mapped directly to the Teams user who is making the call. 

Should the Teams user be disconnected from the call prematurely, the emergency operative can call back the Teams user directly using the call back number associated with that call. Essentially, it is like assigning a temporary DDI to the Teams user. 

This is vital to ensure connectivity during such a critical time. Failure to configure this could constitute negligence on your part that may lead to prosecution in the future. 

To configure emergency call back numbers, first either using Teams Admin Center or PowerShell, find and copy at least two free numbers you have acquired from Microsoft in the same country and area code as your Shared Calling main number.  

Be mindful that these numbers will still show as unassigned in the Teams Admin Center and PowerShell subsequently to their use in this policy. You will need to ensure that your support team are fully briefed NOT to assign these number to another account. 

Now you have these numbers, you need to go back to PowerShell.  

Load each emergency call back number into its own variable, like so. 

Next, you need to load the resource account attached to your Shared Calling auto attendant into a variable object, using this command: 

Now you can create the shared calling policy and attach it directly to the shared calling resource account using this command 

Full commandlet reference below: 

$ecbn1 = “+441270610369” 
$ecbn2 = “+441270610370” 
$scaa = Get-CsOnlineUser -Identity SharedCallingAA@domain.com 
New-CsTeamsSharedCallingRoutingPolicy -Identity London -ResourceAccount $scaa.Identity -EmergencyNumbers @{add=$ecbn1,$ecbn2} 

Now that this has been created and configured, the last step for you to do is to assign this Shared Calling Routing Policy to your users.  

To do this, you need to use PowerShell. 

Shared Calling points to remember 

  • Users will be able to make outbound calls in accordance with the calling plan assigned to the Shared Calling resource account. If this is domestic, all domestic calls will be permitted that fall under the scope of the domestic calling plan. If international, then international destinations will be permitted to all shared calling users assigned to the same policy. 
     
  • Not all destinations in domestic are included in a calling plan. Shared cost and premium rate numbers are excluded. If these need to be called, you will need to assign Communication Credits to the resource account. 
     
  • If one calling plan is not enough for your needs, you can buy more of the same one that is assigned to the resource account and minutes will be pooled. 
     
  • If you’re using PAYG and Communication Credits and you don’t want international destinations to be callable, disable international calling on your auto attendant account. 

How Shared Calling works with Callroute 

If you’re using Microsoft Shared Calling, then with Callroute you can automatically assign shared calling policies to users using our persona management tool as part of our Orto for Teams user management solution. 

Create your user persona that contains the Shared Calling policy you want to assign, then create an automation to apply this persona to users who match a given criteria. 

Create your user persona that contains the Shared Calling policy you want to assign, then create an automation to apply this persona to users who match a given criteria. 

If you use Callroute for Teams Direct Routing, we offer similar capabilities for Shared Calling, but without the complicated setup.  

Unlike Microsoft, where calling plans are issued per user, Callroute calling plans are issued per company. 

This means, by default, you benefit from Shared Calling capabilities out of the box without the need for setting up anything complicated in Teams to handle this. 

All you need to do is assign your Teams users a phone number and they can benefit from the calling plan you purchase from Callroute.  

We offer domestic and international plans from as little as 300 minutes to bundles of 5,000 minutes and more. Or if you prefer a more flexible approach, we also offer PAYG calling on 30-day rolling contracts.  

If you’re interested in doing Shared Calling without the hassle, check out our pricing page and get set up in minutes. 

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