6 Considerations Before Signing up for Microsoft Calling Plans
"If you had come to me a hundred years ago, do you think I should have dreamed of the telephone? Why, even now I cannot understand it! I use it every day, I transact half my correspondence by means of it, but I don't understand it. Think of that little stretched disk of iron at the end of a wire repeating in your ear not only sounds, but words—not only words, but all the most delicate and elusive inflections and nuances of tone which separate one human voice from another! Is not that something of a miracle?"
-Sir William Crookes, English physicist, Published in Chemical News, 1898
I wonder how Crookes might marvel at today's advanced cloud telephony and innovative communication tools. Organizations both large and small, see tangible business value from collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams and equipping Teams users with business telephony. Teams is fast becoming a clear choice for those with the Microsoft Office productivity suite.
Microsoft Teams Telephony
Microsoft's Phone System provides cloud PBX capabilities allowing Teams users to make and receive calls, access voicemail, and transfer calls. You connect Teams to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) using a Microsoft Calling Plan or via Direct Routing.
Microsoft Calling Plans are offered in 10 countries including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Spain, UK, USA. Microsoft also has direct partnerships with Telstra for Australia and Softbank for Japan.
Think of Microsoft Calling Plans as old-style mobile phone contracts where you commit to domestic and international minutes. While it is Microsoft's preferred method of offering PSTN calls with Teams, there are a few drawbacks, so let's explore them.
One of the biggest snags with these plans is that you need to port your organization’s phone numbers to Microsoft, essentially making them your phone service provider. Number porting is daunting sometimes, depending on how your carrier regulates calling services. Types of porting include full-port, partial port, inter-tenant port and project port. Make sure you understand which one best fits your business needs to get the most value from your Microsoft calling plan.
Limited plan options
Per-minute calling plans don't exist. However, monthly subscription plans are available for individual users in a few ways:
- Domestic only for in-country calls (120/240/3000 domestic minute US plans and 120/240/1200 domestic minute EU plans)
- Domestic and international, for in-country and international calls (600 international calling minutes)
Additionally, monthly plans are purchased using credit cards, making it both costly and unsuitable for many businesses.
Although contracts include bundled minutes, unused minutes don't get carried over to the next month. Employees exceeding monthly allocations can utilize the remaining minutes of other employees on the same plan. Remember, a per-minute overage is assessed and charged, so costs add up quickly. To illustrate, a UK organization has unassigned calling plan licenses. For minutes to be allocated to the pool, a user requires a calling plan license. They have 200 calling plan licenses, but only 100 assigned, which just allocates 120,000 minutes, rather than 240,000. Per-minute metered rates apply after 120,000 minutes despite additional unassigned calling plan licenses.
International and toll-free inbound calls are more complex to track, and billing still accrues with Microsoft calling plans. Some organizations require individual teams, offices or regions to pay for their international calls. Your domestic or international plan is used upon reaching either the local or international minute total, whichever is first, raising your bill.
Separate licenses are required to enable audio conference calls. Conference calls that allow voice-only attendees to dial their local phone number incur billing in 60-second increments, which becomes expensive when call bundles get consumed before the end of the month. Pre-arranged pay-per-minute communications credits are used for international plans or domestic subscriptions, ensuring users continue to make calls or dial out from audio conferencing meetings.
Microsoft calling plans don't support non-geographic number (NGN) termination. Hence, foreign businesses are unable to offer customers a more local presence by enabling them to reach you with phone numbers local to their region.
That is a lot to consider if you're thinking about using Microsoft call plans with Teams. The good news is that using Teams with a Microsoft phone system and direct routing allows for far greater flexibility and cost control than Microsoft calling plans.
Direct Routing from 8x8
8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams is a direct routing service that removes administrative complexities, allowing users to make and receive PSTN calls from Microsoft Teams on their desktop or smartphone. It complements the Teams experience through better call quality, analytics, number management and porting.
Organizations also benefit from quick deployment, and better commercial licensing that includes unlimited local and international calls to 47 countries, full PSTN replace across 38 countries and DID, plus toll-free and NGN numbers in more than 120 countries. That makes it especially suitable for organizations with hundreds or even thousands of users dispersed globally. 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams also includes native contact center support, call recording, comprehensive analytics, and support for third-party apps.
8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams, gives your organization all the benefits of a global enterprise communication solution, saving you time and money without the hassle of managing a communications infrastructure, or changing your users' Teams experience.