What's The Difference Between Shared Line Appearance And Shared Calling In Microsoft Teams?

What’s The Difference Between Shared Line Appearance And Shared Calling In Microsoft Teams?

If your goal is to split your telephony and calling usage between different members of staff or save money by sharing features or calling plans, then understanding the differences between Shared Line Appearance and Shared Calling is crucial for selecting the right solution for your business. 

While both provide a solution that enables users to effectively share a phone license, there are some quite striking differences. 

Some relate to usability and use cases. Others relate to the potential cost savings when splitting the cost of various call charges. 

The difference between Shared Line Appearance and Shared Calling in Microsoft Teams 

Here’s an at-a-glance view of the differences between Shared Line Appearance and Shared Calling in Microsoft Teams. 

Shared Line Appearance  Shared Calling 
Lets a user choose who can answer or make calls on their behalf Lets multiple users share a phone number and calling plan 
Users can have up to 25 “delegates” Share one calling plan with as many users as you like 
Delegates have their own phone license too Users share a single license and calling plan 
Users must have a phone number assigned Users don’t need their own phone number 
Requires a Teams Phone license Requires a Teams Phone license 
Only available in Teams Only mode Only available with Microsoft Calling Plan or free via Callroute  
Enabled in the Teams Admin Center Enabled in the Teams Admin Center 

The main difference is that Shared Calling lets several users use one phone number. This comes with the benefits of keeping all the associated call costs under the same number too. So, there’s no need for multiple duplicate licenses or calling plans if the number is used one at a time by the nominated users. 

Shared Line Appearance, on the other hand, lets a user choose who can answer or make phone calls on their behalf. The “delegates” still have access to their own phone license and number but have this extra capability too. 

What is Shared Line Appearance in Microsoft Teams? 

Shared Line Appearance is when a Teams Phone user can choose a delegate to answer or handle calls on their behalf. Essentially, you’re extending the use of (sharing) the use of the phone license. 

Common use cases include: 

  • C-level executives with one or more assistants 
  • Salespeople often in meetings with sales admins handling calls 
  • Recruitment consultants regularly on the phone unable to answer callbacks 

Once enabled, you get two roles: 

  • Manager: authorizes who can handle their calls 
  • Delegate: can answer calls to their corresponding manager 

When Shared Line Appearance is added to a user’s profile, they can select who their delegates will be by clicking Settings and more…next to their profile photo in Teams. 

After then choosing Settings then Calls, users will now be able to choose the Manage delegates menu to add, remove, and manage delegates who can answer their calls or make calls on their behalf. 

Shared Line Appearance in Microsoft Teams

What is Shared Calling in Microsoft Teams? 

Shared Calling is the ability to enable outbound calling for multiple Teams users using a single phone number and calling plan. Essentially, you have a single license and calling plan shared by a team of users who can use it one at a time. 

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.   

Common use cases include: 

  • Small businesses looking to save money on calls 
  • Small businesses in need of a simpler number management solution 
  • Departments that don’t need a dedicated number for every user 
  • Businesses without access to pay-as-you-go Microsoft Calling Plans 

You might not have access to pay-as-you-go for any number of reasons: 

  • You don’t find Microsoft pay-as-you-go rates competitive and can’t get budget or sign off 
  • Communication credits require a credit card that you don’t have easy access to 
  • Minutes must be pre-paid, meaning you must spend with Microsoft before you’ve made any calls 
  • Handling top-ups through complex business finance processes can be operationally prohibitive 

This is where Shared Calling comes into play. 

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:  

  • Microsoft Calling Plans: you buy your calling minutes and phone number directly from Microsoft and they provide your calling service.  
  • 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.  
  • 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… 

There are some major items you need to know about Shared Calling: 

  • You share minutes from a single calling plan   
  • Users share a common outbound calling ID but have no direct inbound calling number   
  • Good value if your users require infrequent access to make a phone call  
  • It might be poor value if your users begin to overuse   
  • It’s beneficial for providing global emergency calling and for users who may need to make infrequent calls   
  • You can borrow minutes from other calling plans, or use pay-as-you-go to control costs   
  • Every user needs a Teams Phone Standard license    

Prerequisites for Shared Calling in Teams  

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

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

Once you have these prerequisites in order, moving to Shared Calling is simple. But only choose Shared Calling when it’s the right option for you. 

To summarize, let’s break down when to choose Shared Line Appearance and when to choose Shared Calling. 

Choose Shared Line Appearance when… 

Your job role means you’re frequently unavailable (through choice or through work patterns) and need someone else to handle your calls. 

If you’re a C-level executive tied up in board meetings most of your week, it makes sense to assign a delegate to answer your calls and return important calls using your business phone number. 

Otherwise, your customer (or any stakeholder) will return a call on what they thought was your number and get your delegate—even when you’re available. 

Choose Shared Calling when… 

Your main goal is to save money on calling costs. This is usually in small businesses and those without complex PBX configurations who just need to enable calling. 

If you have Teams users who rarely make external PSTN calls but do still need access then consider splitting the calling plan with other users in the department or user persona type. 

Here’s some great news about Shared Calling 

You can get Shared Calling for free

That’s right. No gimmicks or gotchas, just free Shared Calling. 

What’s more, you’re likely to save money on your actual call costs, compared to using Microsoft Communication Credits. 

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.  

Here’s a quick exercise for you to try.

Enter the rough number of minutes you use per month and see how much you can save!

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Looks pretty good, right? 

🤑  Click here to get started with Shared Calling for free 🤑 

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