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Microsoft Teams Operator Connect

Author: Anagha Ravi

Announced in 2021, Microsoft announced Operator Connect as the newest way to bring external calling capabilities to Microsoft Teams. 

Operator Connect allows organizations to connect Microsoft Teams to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for voice, emergency, and messaging services. Operator Connect and Direct Routing both deliver the same end result, but with different deployment models. 

There are four core benefits to this Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) solution: 

  1. Ease of use: Microsoft’s Operator Connect program is an off-the-shelf version of Direct Routing, designed to provide ease of use and flexibility to organizations that want to work directly with voice providers. 
  2. Pure cloud: Your carrier fully owns and manages your PSTN connectivity and Session Border Controllers (SBCs), allowing you to lower hardware purchases, maintenance, and management.
  3. Faster deployment: You can quickly select and connect to your carrier, then assign phone numbers to users from the Microsoft Teams Admin Center. Unlike Direct Routing, there’s no need for PowerShell coding or DevOps knowledge.
  4. Enhanced support and reliability: Operators provide technical support and shared service level agreements (SLAs) to improve support. Backed by direct peering powered by Azure, you’ll receive a one-to-one network connection for the network resiliency you need. 

Operator Connect FAQ

How difficult is it to set up Operator Connect?

Operator Connect is an easy, intuitive way to add voice, messaging, and emergency to your Microsoft Teams instance. To set up Operator Connect, follow these steps: 

  1. Select your preferred Operator from the Microsoft Teams Operators tab. Choose the Operator you want, and enable numbers. 
  2. Visit your Operator’s Dashboard, and follow their instructions to order numbers, port numbers, and set up locations for your users. 
  3. In the Microsoft Teams Admin center, set up phone numbers for your users. This process is different when setting up net new numbers, porting them from your Direct Routing provider, or migrating them over from Calling Plans. 
  4. Set up emergency calling with dynamic location routing. Businesses in the U.S. are required to provide accurate dispatchable location information for employees in the case of a workplace emergency. If you’re adding PSTN connectivity to your Microsoft Teams instance, this will become a requirement.

To learn more about setting up Operator Connect, get in touch. 

Are there any requirements for Operator Connect?

To set up Operator Connect, you’ll need a Microsoft Teams license that includes Phone Systems. In addition, Operator Connect requires that your users are activated in TeamsOnly mode, a Microsoft-Certified Operator, and a Microsoft-Certified E911 provider. 

What’s the difference between Operator Connect and Direct Routing?

Operator Connect and Direct Routing are both ways to add voice and emergency calling to Microsoft Teams. However, they are best suited for different organizations and needs. 

Unlike Direct Routing, Operator Connect is: 

  • Pure cloud. Your operator fully manages your infrastructure, which means that PSTN calling services and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) are owned by your carrier. 
  • Easy to use. It’s simple to connect to operators, assign phone numbers, and manage emergency services within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center—no coding knowledge required. 
  • Backed by shared support SLAs. You’ll have access to shared support Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and are backed by two support organizations committed to your success.
  • Provider selective. While Direct Routing lets you bring any Microsoft Teams-connected voice and emergency provider, Operator Connect offers only Microsoft-certified calling providers.  

Learn more about Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams.

Operator Connect: Next steps

Moving to the cloud brings the opportunity to consolidate, streamline, and modernize. Learn more about moving to and around the communications cloud or talk to one of our experts.