Microsoft Teams Direct Routing
In 2017, Microsoft released Teams as an integration with their Office 365 subscription productivity suite. Teams is Microsoft’s Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) platform and has replaced Skype for Business Online, allowing users to collaborate via chat, video conference, and calling.
What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?
Direct Routing allows an organization to access the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) from Microsoft Teams so users to make and receive phone calls. In order to connect to the PSTN from teams, you must enable Microsoft Phone System, its native PBX functionality.
Microsoft Phone System is included with certain licenses like E5, but can also be purchased as an add-on to an E3 license. In order to ensure incoming and outgoing calls are passed through the Microsoft Teams client and delivered to your end-users, you’ll need a Microsoft-certified SBC (Session Border Controller) as well as a provider for both your SIP trunking and Dynamic E911 Services.
The benefits of Teams Direct Routing
One of the most attractive things about Direct Routing is the pay-for-what-you-use model that generally comes with SIP trunking. The cost of Direct Routing depends on your individual inputs, such as who your SIP trunking provider is, what usage model you’re set up for, who your E911 provider is, what E911 services you require, who your SBC vendor is, and what option (hosted, on-prem, etc) you choose.
When an organization decides to use Teams for PSTN access and obtains the proper license with Microsoft Phone System, they actually have three options: Direct Routing, Operator Connect, and Microsoft’s own Calling Plans. Microsoft Calling Plans, powered by Bandwidth, is a seat-based model that comes with a list of line features.
What are Microsoft Teams Calling Plans?
Pricing and features for Teams Calling Plans are dependent upon an organization’s Office 365 license level, and can also vary in both price and availability by International Region.
At the time of writing, Microsoft lists Calling Plan pricing at around $12 per license for domestic calling and $24 for international plans with associated minute caps under two headings:
- Domestic: 3,000 domestic minutes in the US and Puerto Rico and 1,200 domestic minutes in the UK
- International: 3,000 domestic minutes in the US and Puerto Rico, and 1,200 domestic minutes in the UK; 600 international minutes. (Source)
Additional domestic or international minutes may be purchased in the form of Communication Credits, which can be purchased as necessary at any time. Phone numbers are included in Calling Plans, but existing numbers can be ported over from a current carrier.
Calling Plans vs. Direct Routing
Organizations tend to use Calling Plans because of the simplified telecom purchasing, easy-to-understand per-seat pricing, and the ease of turning up new workstations. It’s important to note that the trade-off for ease of deployment generally results in greater recurring cost in the form of the per-seat cost model, and in limitations on domestic and international minutes.
The other option, Direct Routing, tends to appeal to organizations that want to maintain legacy routing and features/functionality of on-prem equipment while gaining more control, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Microsoft Teams Direct Routing allows companies to only pay for what they use. There’s also no need to port your existing numbers over to Microsoft’s Calling Plans, so keeping that number ownership with a carrier also tends to be a favorable option for larger enterprises.
Migrating to a cloud-based UCaaS system like Microsoft Teams presents a whole host of challenges.
Learn more about how you can smooth out your migration to the cloud with Direct Routing.
How does Direct Routing work?
In simple terms, here’s how to deploy Direct Routing:
- Get your numbers and SIP trunking service from a provider like Bandwidth
- Connect your SIP trunks to your Microsoft Certified Session Border Controller (SBC)
- Make calls in and out of the PSTN with Microsoft Teams Direct Routing
Remember, you need to set up a Dynamic E911 solution alongside Direct Routing. See below for more information.
Dynamic E911 for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing
Microsoft Teams leverages dynamic E911 capabilities which provide public safety with user location that is determined at the time of the emergency call. With Teams, organizations can also specify more granular location information such as a floor, suite, quadrant, or room (as well as civic address) to public safety, setting the stage for faster, more reliable emergency outcomes.
Dynamic E911 for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing supports non-fixed VoIP dispatchable location requirements that are now part of many state E911 regulations as well as RAY BAUM’s Act. Teams also includes a notifications feature that can be enabled to alert designated personnel such as a security team of a 911 call. This requirement is now part of Kari’s Law.
While much of the 911 configuration and location management is performed within Microsoft Teams, Bandwidth provides the essential interconnectivity to public safety. We route the calls to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP) and make the location information available to the 911 call taker for emergency response.
Finding a Direct Routing provider
As a cloud-native carrier built for the enterprise, Bandwidth gives you all the building blocks you need to build your perfect communications solution: voice services, 911 access, SMS messaging, and robust phone number management capabilities. Bandwidth is the only Direct Routing provider that offers SIP, SMS, and E911 in a single, integrated solution.
When it comes to powering the voice calling behind Microsoft Teams, you have the power of choice—and Bandwidth is the best one. We own and operate one of the nation’s largest all-IP voice networks, and are trusted by Microsoft as a Direct Routing provider.
When you partner with Bandwidth through Direct Routing, you can:
- Access preferred pricing
- Leverage dynamic E911 capabilities for Microsoft Teams
- Protect your users with fast, reliable call routing to 100% of public safety
- Connect to the Public Switch Telecom Network (PSTN)
- Implement more scalable SIP trunking
- Directly control disaster recovery and IP failover
- Trigger ports, order, instantly provision, and manage numbers in real-time
- Easily access calling and billing detail records
- Integrate voice, 911 access, and messaging via APIs
Microsoft Teams Direct Routing FAQs
To implement Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams, you need two things: A Microsoft Teams instance, and a Direct Routing provider that offers SIP Trunks and compliant E911 connectivity. If you’re choosing to host your Session Border Controller (SBC), you don’t need that—but if you want to maintain total routing control, you’ll need your own SBC.
Once that’s squared away, you’ll need to:
1. Request number ports and order new numbers
If you don’t need any new numbers, simply request port orders from your old provider to your Direct Routing provider. If you are purchasing new numbers, request phone numbers directly from your provider.
2. Connect your provider to your Microsoft Teams inside
Share your Microsoft Teams and IP details with your Direct Routing provider to check your Teams profile, connect SIP trunks to your numbers, and set up your Session Border Controller (SBC). Bandwidth offers a hosted SBC-as-a-Service for organizations that don’t want to manage their own, or you can keep your SBC on-prem.
3. Test your voice and emergency
Live 911 connectivity testing is performed as part of the 911 onboarding process at Bandwidth. Have your Direct Routing provider coordinate a live 911 call to the primary SBC, and a second live 911 call to the SBC designated for the failover route, to ensure your employees can get in touch with the right public safety answering point (PSAP) in the case of a workplace emergency.
4. Set up texting for Teams
The last thing to set up? SMS and MMS messaging for Teams. While Direct Routing doesn’t offer texting in itself, Send-To is an off-the-shelf app that brings built-in texting for Microsoft Teams. You have to use Bandwidth’s phone numbers to use Send-To, which is why enterprises choose Bandwidth as their Direct Routing provider.
Direct Routing and Operator Connect both let you make external phone calls from Microsoft Teams. Direct Routing allows organizations to connect their own telephony infrastructure and any provider to Teams, while Operator Connect uses Microsoft-certified operators to handle calls.
Direct Routing provides more control and flexibility for organizations, allowing them to customize their own telephony setup. On the other hand, Operator Connect is a simpler option that may be better suited for smaller companies or those without an existing telephony setup. Both options have unique benefits, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision on which one to use.