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Understanding Microsoft Teams Phone Systems

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Understanding Microsoft Teams Phone Systems

Seemingly overnight, Microsoft Teams became a staple of workplaces the world over. Although Microsoft has, over the years, maintained numerous tools for making and receiving phone calls, sending instant messages, and holding videoconferences, Teams represents the most unified and business-centric experience to date. 

Not only does it put voice, video, messaging, and more in one place, but it’s also highly extensible, with numerous API-driven workflows and integrations with other services. It is even practical to build a full-fledged Microsoft Teams phone system, thanks to the Microsoft Teams Direct Routing solution from Telesystem, which connects your Teams apps and clients to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) via a direct route through the Microsoft Cloud.

With such an implementation in place, it’s possible to make calls across any country or region to both landlines and mobile phones, all from directly within the Microsoft Teams client. A Teams add-in is also available for Telesystem UC-One. The MS Teams-Telesystem combination makes an already great communications platform even better, by letting users easily connect with external parties, including those listed in their Outlook contacts and Azure Active Directory.

 

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Why Build a Microsoft Teams Phone System?

The main reason to consider creating a tightly integrated Microsoft Teams phone system is that Microsoft Teams is a popular tool that is a core component of workplace collaboration. Accordingly, given the centrality of Microsoft Teams to business communications, organizations can benefit from integrating as much functionality into the Teams platform as possible, so as to minimize the number of discrete app interfaces that employees have to navigate on a regular basis.  

Context switching is a major productivity killer, after all. Why switch to an entirely different interface when most if not all tasks, including making phone calls using the PSTN, can be done from within Microsoft Teams itself, using the right integration? Likewise, other apps and services can easily connect to Teams, too. Accordingly, there are never any big informational silos dividing up a company’s various tools and data, nor as many time-consuming multiapp workflows to endure. 

Overall, the immense popularity and versatility of Microsoft Teams have made it a haven for these types of time- and money-saving integrations with other apps and services that extend its already extensive functionality:

  •       Between November 2019 and April 2020, the total number of Microsoft Teams users skyrocketed, from 20 million to 115 million, per Microsoft’s earning reports throughout this period an as quoted by ZDNet.
  •       According to Microsoft, on March 31, 2020, there were 2.7 billion meeting minutes logged on Microsoft Teams, or three times the previous peak reached just 15 days earlier, of 900 million minutes.
  •       From Trello and Asana to Stack Overflow and Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Teams integrates with a vast array of applications. And that’s before even considering its built-in capabilities related to chatbots and its usability as a phone system.

In terms of the phone system functionality, Microsoft Teams includes basic PSTN dialing and calling features out of the box when used through its mobile, desktop, and Surface Hub clients. These voice features sit alongside the platform’s other core components for chat, including both one-on-one and group chat, as well as file sharing, VoIP telephony, and videoconferencing. 

Teams meetings, whether via audio-only or combined video and audio feeds, may be recorded and shared as needed, too. The channels in which people collaborate within Teams can also be connected to third-party services like business intelligence tools and social media apps, which populate them with information in real time.

For organizations that want to go even further with Microsoft Teams and connect it to their existing unified communications (UC) and VoIP systems, doing so is straightforward. We’ve already seen how flexible Microsoft Teams is, both as a hub between numerous applications and a powerful video/web conferencing solution in its own right. These same important capabilities make it a great fit with Telesystem solutions for UC and SIP trunking that together enable the creation of an enterprise-grade Microsoft Teams phone system.

Building the Microsoft Teams phone system: MS Teams plus VoIP

Microsoft Teams launched in 2017. Well before that time, many organizations had VoIP and UC solutions up and running. Indeed, VoIP was a multibillion-dollar market for a while: Global Market Insights estimated that it was worth $20 billion in 2018, right after Teams’ launch, and it was expected to expand at a 12% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2025. 

VoIP systems are versatile and increasingly pivotal components of company communications, due to benefits including but not limited to:

  •       Much better scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness than a traditional on-prem private branch exchange (PBX).
  •       Streamlined moves, adds, and changes, without costly on-site visits as required with older PBXs.
  •       Professional network monitoring and management from the service provider, freeing up more time to focus on strategic projects instead of technical upkeep.
  •       Built-in security protections such as DDoS mitigation and physically secure data centers, to shield the VoIP service from cyberattacks.
  •       Numerous value-added services like auto attendants, hosted receptionist consoles, call recording, and local inbound.
  •       Integration with other solutions, including unified communications platforms and CRM software.

Combine the virtually overnight popularity of Microsoft Teams with the large installed base of VoIP solutions worldwide, and it’s easy to see why a Microsoft Teams-VoIP combination is the logical next step for many organizations. Their respective functionalities are also synergistic, as each solution offers its own features for voice and is essential to effective collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders.

Telesystem MS Teams Direct Routing is designed to bring Microsoft Teams and the Telesystem network, including hosted VoIP, as close together as possible. On a basic technical level, here’s how it works:

  1. Telesystem utilizes Direct Routing to connect Microsoft Teams to the PSTN.
  2. The connection runs through the Microsoft Cloud and uses a session border controller (SBC).
  3. Teams users ultimately connect to external parties over Telesystem’s private global voice network, whether they’re using the Microsoft Teams Electron-based desktop app, mobile app, or a compatible desk phone.

Essentially, this interconnectedness lets end users continue to enjoy the Microsoft Teams experience they already know while also having access to a fully featured business phone system from within that same interface. Teams is accessible inside of Telesystem UC-One as well via an add-on. Moreover, MS Teams Direct Routing from Telesystem is beneficial to the organization at large, due to how it supports more cost-effective and reliable communications. Let’s look at some of its benefits and use cases in more detail.

Benefits and use cases of MS Teams Direct Routing from Telesystem

With MS Teams Direct Routing, it’s possible to unlock advantages including:

Flexible and interoperable call handling

Microsoft has highlighted how Direct Routing in general allows for a variety of SIP trunks and interconnects for PSTN connectivity to be used with Teams via an SBC. In the Telesystem solution for enabling a Microsoft Teams phone system, users get this exact level of integration. For example, a normal desktop phone can be connected to Teams to handle any call from any device, plus calls can be logged and forwarded from one unified platform. Thanks to direct inward dial (DID/DDI) support, Telesystem also allows users to retain their existing phone numbers even when using MS Teams Direct Routing.

High availability and reliability

The integration is supported through Telesystem’s geo-redundant switch platform. This infrastructure has high uptime and also delivers crystal-clear sound quality. Likewise, the Telesystem network incorporates leading carriers and service routes for an optimal voice communications experience.

Substantial savings 

Combining Telesystem’s network with Microsoft Teams delivers major savings compared to sticking with a traditional PBX. A company’s monthly phone bill can drop as a result of:

  •       More straightforward management
  •       Unlimited minutes to the U.S. and Canada
  •       Simpler maintenance, 
  •       The exchange of inflexible capital expenditures for more flexible operating expenditures in the cloud

Expanded — and expanding — functionality

The Microsoft Teams-Telesystem integration brings sophisticated functionality directly into the Teams client. Key features include:

  •       Interactive voice response.
  •       Automated call distribution.
  •       Cloud voicemail and transcription services.
  •       Hunt groups.
  •       Enhanced 911 support.
  •       Call queuing based on predefined business rules.
  •       A Teams add-on within Telesystem UC-One.

With continuous updates from the cloud, these capabilities are constantly being refined, too. Both Microsoft Teams and Telesystem hosted VoIP are cloud-based and continuously improving, with feature sets that are never out of date.

Easy implementation and operation

Telesystem handles solution design, implementation, and support for a white-glove experience that scales to the unique needs of each customer. There’s nothing complicated for a customer-side team to navigate on its own. Every organization implementing MS Teams Direct Routing also has access to a dedicated Telesystem team for assistance throughout the setup process. Similarly, around-the-clock technical support is available for troubleshooting issues and to guide any necessary changes in service.

Enterprise-level security and control

As remote work becomes more common, organizations face an ongoing challenge in making sure that their remote workers have reliable yet secure access to the applications they need for work, including Microsoft Teams phone systems. Telesystem makes it easy to utilize an existing Office 365 login so that employees can connect to collaboration platforms. Office 365 administrators also retain full control over their configurations and can customize the solution to their requirements, too. 

A Microsoft Teams phone system: The right solution at the right time

Microsoft Teams’ meteoric growth and the concurrent expansion of remote work means that there has never been a better time to integrate this solution into a phone system. The experienced team at Telesystem can guide you through each step of the integration process, from initial design all the way through ongoing support. We’ll make scalable team telephony through Microsoft Teams a reality and help you integrate it with our reliable and secure network.

To learn more about MS Teams Direct Routing from Telesystem, visit our solution page. You can also contact the Telesystem team directly to hear more about building a Microsoft Teams phone system that connects Teams to your SIP trunks and interconnects.

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