Microsoft Teams Voice

If you want to have voice calling capabilities with Microsoft teams, this is one of your options.

Microsoft Teams is a much-loved business collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate and collaborate via workspace messaging features, video conferencing, file sharing, and a range of application integrations.

Businesses typically use the MS Teams solution to cater to their internal communication needs and purchase telephony solutions separately for their external communications. That's why 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams is such a critical integration.

This particular innovation includes direct routing capabilities, which offers organizations a way to unify their internal and external business communications without sacrificing their much-loved Microsoft solutions. If you’re a MS Teams-loving business, then direct routing could be exactly what you're looking for. You’ll be able to unify all of your communications channels under one roof and save time and money in the process.

But what is direct routing and what does it do? How does it enhance your business communications?

What is direct routing?

Generally speaking, direct routing refers to a process in which digital information - translated into packets - is sent from its "home" machine to its "destination" machine without passing through any other machines that would serve as an intermediary.

But how does a direct routing solution translate specifically in the context of 8x8 Voice for MS Teams? Well, it allows businesses to add PBX functionality, access a wider range of countries by bypassing public telephony, and (by extension) offers greater affordability, flexibility, and convenience. All without ever needing to leave the Teams environment.

That's not the only thing it can do, though. There are more advantages when it comes to direct routing using 8x8 Voice for Teams.

The benefits of phone system direct routing

As you might imagine, direct routing of a Microsoft Teams account to a third-party telephony provider like 8x8 comes with tremendous benefits. Among them are:

1. Unified Communications

Direct routing turns Microsoft Teams into a unified business communications system (similar to a true UCaaS platform). You’ll be able to combine your organization’s internal and external communications processes (including incoming calls) under one system.

By consolidating all of your communications on one cloud-based platform, you’ll bypass all that expensive on-premises infrastructure and physical IT hardware.

Direct routing with the 8x8 eXperience Communications Platform means you’ll be able to combine your Teams communications with calling, meetings, chat, and API functionalities for an altogether better user experience and call quality.

2. Reliable business communications

Another benefit of direct routing to a third-party provider is voice network reliability. When you run all of your business-critical communications on Teams alone, you’re running the risk of significant downtime in the event of a service outage.

When you direct route your MS Teams to a third-party provider, such as through 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams, you’ll enjoy additional full-service assurance that guarantees uninterrupted business resilience supported by state-of-the-art data centers.

3. PBX & calling capabilities

Direct routing allows you to convert your Microsoft Teams tool into a PBX. That means you’ll be able to make use of traditional call features like call transfers, queues, holding, call routing, voicemail, and auto attendants. You’ll be able to make and receive calls not only from Teams itself but from landlines and mobile too.

4. Integrate with business apps

Direct routing to a third-party provider means you’ll be able to make use of tens of thousands of additional integrations with your favorite business apps and CRM systems that work with them. You’ll be able to enhance your MS Teams functionality and connect seamlessly with fully integrated tools.

5. Supports remote working

In the age of remote and hybrid working, direct routing is increasingly valuable. Direct routing makes it easier for employees to work from anywhere, allowing teams to continue communicating seamlessly from dispersed geographical locations.

By turning your MS Teams tool into a fully-fledged PBX, you’ll be able to make and take calls directly from Teams, from a landline, or mobile phone, irrespective of location.

6. Saves time and money

Direct routing is cost effective and can save businesses a lot of money long-term. If you’re doing a lot of outbound calling, Microsoft Calling Plans can be significantly more expensive when it comes to cost-per-call than other third-party telephony providers like 8x8, even more so when it comes to international calling.

7. Number porting

There’s no need to worry about changing your business phone numbers. You can port your existing business phone numbers. You can port numbers to and from Microsoft Teams and to your chosen telephony provider.

How direct routing works

So, how does direct routing work? The process works by connecting a Microsoft Teams account directly to the PSTN using a session border controller, SIP trunking, and media bypass. Let’s take a closer look at these two elements.

Session border controller (SBC)

Session border controllers (SBCs) ensure that data is transferred properly between networks while offering additional security protection against data breaches. Most of today’s certified SBCs are cloud-hosted, making them cheaper to maintain and much more flexible than traditional, on-premises session border controllers.

What is SBC in MS Teams?

As mentioned, SBCs transfer data between public and private networks. In the case of direct routing, that means from a Microsoft Phone System, PBX, or PSTN. When you deploy direct routing, SBCs are connected to your phone system and calling is enabled. Each system is configured to route calls to the specific SBC.

SIP trunks

SIP (session initiation protocol) is a type of signaling protocol. SIP trunking (or SIP signaling) is a process that lets you make phone calls via a data connection. Your SIP trunk provider will connect your IP phone, business phone systems (PBX, etc.), PSTN, and the internet.

Media bypass

Media bypass is a voice routing function that shortens the path of media traffic. Using protocols in the Microsoft Teams client and SBC, media bypassing helps direct routing find the most direct media path.

What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is a process whereby your Microsoft Teams calls can be routed directly to your chosen telephony carrier for Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connectivity—AKA the traditional telecom system, often using phone lines or analog devices—in real time.

With direct routing, MS Teams goes beyond being just an internal communications tool and can, instead, be used as a fully functioning business phone system.

There are two ways to route calls from Microsoft directly. These are:

  • by using a Microsoft Calling Plan, and
  • by getting calls directly routed to a telephony provider

Using Microsoft Calling Plans

A Microsoft Calling Plan turns Microsoft Teams into a hosted, light-touch, PBX that integrates with MS Teams. Whilst Microsoft Calling Plans are an attractive, straightforward, option for small business teams, larger teams often find this to be an expensive option.

Additionally, Microsoft Calling Plans are only available in 16 countries, so may be limited for global organizations. Because of this, many businesses opt for the second option (direct routing).

Getting calls directly routed to a telephony provider

Instead of using a Microsoft Calling Plan, you can connect your Teams account to a third-party telephony provider of your choice, like 8x8, via direct routing. This gives organizations the freedom to integrate with Teams whilst being able choose their own service provider. That means cheaper call rates, increased support, and flexibility.

8x8 calling plans, for example, act as a complete VoIP telephony replacement for Microsoft Teams across 42 countries. Organizations can pick from a range of calling plans to meet their individual needs. Plus, global teams can expand their call range to over 120 countries with an 8x8 voice gateway.

How do I set up Teams Direct Routing?

To set up direct routing for Microsoft Teams, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose a telephony provider. Cloud voice solutions like 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams offers full SIP trunk and SBC capabilities and can be deployed simply and easily.

All you have to do to get started is to authorize 8x8 to connect to your Microsoft Phone System environment and connect 8x8 PBX to your Microsoft Domain. Typically, this process takes no more than an hour to complete so you’ll be ready to go in no time at all.

Once the process is complete, all of your Microsoft Teams users will be able to make and receive PSTN calls directly from their MS Teams account, or via their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. There’s absolutely no need to retrain your teams. Users can continue using MS Teams as per usual, and 8x8 will deal with everything behind the scenes.

What license do I need for Teams Direct Routing?

You’ll need to ensure that you have the appropriate licensing in place, in accordance with Microsoft routing policies, before using direct routing for Microsoft Teams. There are three main licensing types that you will need.

These are:

  • A Microsoft Phone System License
  • A Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business License
  • Microsoft Audio Conference Licenses

Transform teams into a fully-fledged business phone solution

With Microsoft phone system direct routing you can transform your Microsoft Teams client into a fully-fledged Microsoft Teams phone system and unify all of your communications channels under one system for total interoperability.

Instead of purchasing separate collaboration tools for your internal and external business communications, MS Teams direct routing allows you to keep your much-loved MS Teams functionalities whilst connecting to third-party Microsoft partner programs and enterprise solutions.

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