Microsoft Teams – Provide telephony numbers in Teams with Operator Connect

With Operator connect we will be able to manage partnerships with our local telephony providers and provide telephony features to end users in Microsoft Teams. We can evict the need of managing & maintenance of SBC locally in the datacenter unless we have some specific requirements for routing calls to another ip-pbx environment within the organization .This is a big advantage for customers who want to go completely to the cloud and eliminate their on-premise dependency.

Microsoft recently announced Operator Connect to be General and it can be a good start for organizations which has less dependency on legacy PBX integrations in their environment. For instance when a customer having only Skype for business, SBC and a SIP Trunk with their local telephony provider in their current configuration can easily think of moving this enterprise voice service to cloud easily by benefiting the operator connect service.

At the moment of writing this post there are 22 operators present in this program which supports upto 60 regions all over the world with Microsoft and the list can definitely grow in future. In this blog we will run through the steps to enable operator connect and the steps to enable them with the provider NTT.

Below prerequisites are required from Office 365 tenant to evaluate the operator connect service:

  1. Users must have minimum E1+Phone System, E3+Phone System or E5 License.
  2. All these users leveraging the operator connect service must be in Teams Only mode.
  3. Emergency Address must be created and assigned to these users.

In our case we are testing from the location Netherlands and hence we have only Netherlands defined as Emergency address.

In order to start with operator connect – Navigate to Teams Admin center – select operator connect – We can see there are totally 22 operators available at this moment.

In our example we have chosen NTT and it asks us to enter the below information and accept the data privacy terms.

In this example only the country Netherlands is chosen and its as good as evaluating this service with a company size of 1 person.

Finally we will be prompted with data privacy policy with regards to the data handled by our operator in regards to their privacy practices.

Post that we get an email confirmation like below to start the free trial. We will be asked to provide our email address and telephone number , so that an agent can call to evaluate the prerequisite and onboard this service.

Finally after its enabled we could see NTT in the my operators section. However we could see that the acquired phone numbers is 0 because still the service is not initialized with provider NTT in our case.

When scrolling towards the right we could see that there is an offer details section

Clicking on it brings the below screen and its nice to see that NTT has compliance recording and video interoperability features included in them which is of great benefit for customers to reduce the complexity of additional components for these features as well.

When clicking on calling plans section it takes us to the below screen where they have 4 varieties of option to be chosen by customers based upon users and their business requirements. This is an example for NTT. And for other providers we can see calling plans for Teams based on their offer.

After the agreement is completed with the chosen service provider the numbers are automatically uploaded in the phone number section and ready for assignment.

We can assign the phone number directly from the Teams Admin Center either from the phone number section or from the User section as below.

From the Phone number section after picking the number we have the option to select the user and assign the number. During this, we need to mandatorily select the emergency numbers and there is option to email user about his Phone Number details.

Here we have an option to switch directly from Direct Routing to Operator connect for a user.

And after picking Operator Connect we can see all the numbers that is available for assignment. There will be automation script method for this for doing on a bulk deployment.

As a result, the Operator Connect summary will look like the example below.

To summarize, we could have an ecosystem comprising Microsoft Calling Plans, Operator Connect, and Direct Routing that can be selected as the best solution for complex geo deployment scenarios. Operator connect can be a huge benefit for companies starting Enterprise Voice deployment in a new implementation stage because it allows them to use local telephony providers and assign numbers to users directly from the Teams Admin center, eliminating the complexity of managing SBCs, creating voice routes, and other configuration.

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