Datasharp explain Microsoft’s new service Operator Connect

By Anita Jaynes on 24 June, 2021

Datasharp Integrated Communications gives The Business Exchange an insight into Microsoft’s recently launched service, Operator Connect, a new operator managed service allowing businesses to directly enable PSTN (public switched telephone network) calling from their existing carriers in Microsoft Teams. This new service benefits smaller businesses who want to operate and manage their own phone numbers directly through Teams. For larger businesses with more complex needs, Operator Connect may not have the flexibility required to support hybrid working or other key functions such as call centre.

Microsoft Teams: Direct Routing vs Operator Connect

What is Operator Connect?

Microsoft has recently launched a new service called Operator Connect; an operator managed service for bringing PSTN calling to Teams. With Operator Connect, businesses can bring their own PSTN carrier (from Microsoft’s approved list) for Microsoft Teams calling via a managed service model.

IT Managers can then connect their provider and assign phone numbers to users all from within an “Operators” tab directly within the Teams admin dashboard.

Microsoft says Operator Connect aims to close the gap between Microsoft call plans and direct routing, allowing businesses to benefit from some of the cost savings that come from direct routing whilst choosing their own carrier. For smaller business with under 50 employees and no complex requirements, Operator Connect could be the logical choice.

Advantages of Operator Connect

Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams has the following benefits:

  • Cost savings of a direct routing service – pay for what you use rather than per user
  • Bring your own carrier (if the carrier is approved by Microsoft)
  • It’s a simple solution for a business with no complex requirements
  • Can be activated quickly
  • Internal IT teams can assign telephone numbers to users without going through an external provider
  • Useful for businesses who want to manage their communications stack within the Teams admin centre

Disadvantages of Operator Connect

With the simplicity that Operator Connect offers, it does compromise on flexibility. Businesses are limited to only the services that are available and will be unable to solve any complex requirements that may be needed or reduce costs by seeking out other 3rd party options.

What is Direct Routing?

Direct Routing provides the flexibility businesses need to integrate their existing telephony solution with Microsoft Teams. It also allows the integration of other business-critical functions such as call centres and on-the-road service teams.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams enables businesses to have a true Unified Communications and collaboration platform, managing both inbound and outbound calls as if it were a traditional PBX phone system.

With Direct Routing, Microsoft Teams can be connected to a range of service providers and provides the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements such as the ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended working’ model.

Direct Routing vs Operator Connect, How Do They Compare?

Microsoft Operator Connect

  • A simple service for businesses requiring basic voice services
  • Anything additional to voice services needs to be managed by an external provider
  • Cannot support the complexities of larger businesses with more requirements like call centres, call-forking or control over SBC software levels
  • It does not allow a business to customise the services needed with connection to 3rd party systems
  • Locked into using services only available from large multi-tenanted inflexible carriers on the Microsoft approved list
  • There is no option to look elsewhere for a better solution to services like call recording, which may be more expensive through Operator Connect and not suitable for regulatory compliance in certain sectors
  • Limited by the global coverage that operator connect carriers for Microsoft have
  • No dedicated point of contact for support

Direct Routing from Datasharp Integrated Communications      

  • Single, dedicated, responsive point of contact for support (not Microsoft)
  • Supported with a dedicated SBC that be managed and controlled for any compatibility challenges
  • Cheaper call rates with a ‘pay for what you use’ contract
  • Support for additional integrations such as call centre, call recording and analytics software
  • Perfect for businesses with more complex communications requirements
  • Not limited to the carriers on the Microsoft approved list
  • Not limited to the global coverage of Microsoft approved carriers

Hybrid Working 

Changes in working practices due to the pandemic mean that many businesses now have more complicated requirements if they are to fully support their remote working teams.

Distributed teams are working online and although face to face meetings will return, many businesses will adopt, in whole or in part, flexible working practices.

To meet these changing demands for businesses, flexibility and dedicated tailored support is a must to keep communication flowing and business moving.

Summary

In summary, Operator Connect bridges the gap between Microsoft Calling Plans and Direct Routing, providing more options to smaller businesses. Whilst an attractive solution, it has limitations that larger businesses will find difficult to address.

Direct Routing for Teams from Datasharp Integrated Communications provides a future-proof solution with much greater flexibility and a dedicated support package.

Datasharp Integrated Communications is an award-winning local provider of unified communications and collaboration solutions, specialising in many areas including VOIP technology. To find out more about Microsoft Teams Direct Routing visit: datasharp-ic.co.uk/microsoft-teams-direct-routing