Voice • Last Updated 7/5/2024

Telnyx’s complete Microsoft Teams Voice user guide

Learn how to be a smooth operator and directly route all your calls with our in-depth Microsoft Teams Voice user guide

Simon_Verbiest

By Simon Verbiest

Microsoft Teams Voice has enabled seamless collaboration and connectivity since its launch in 2020. While many organizations choose to use MS Teams Voice out of the box, many also choose to enhance their Teams experience by using Operator Connect or Direct Routing for Teams. These tools can help MS Teams users save costs, enhance flexibility, ensure global reach, and improve call quality and reliability.

You can choose from a number of Microsoft-approved Operators to run Operator Connect or Direct Routing. However, some providers offer stronger platforms, tools, and networks than others. For instance, by using Telnyx’s robust PSTN services, your organization can enjoy unmatched flexibility, cost savings, and reliable calls, all via our private global network.

Dive into our guide to learn how you can take your Microsoft Teams Voice experience to the next level by choosing Telnyx as your Microsoft Teams Voice partner.

What is Microsoft Teams Voice?

Microsoft Teams Voice enables organizations to use Teams as their primary phone system. Through MS TeamsVoice, users can make and receive phone calls by integrating traditional telephony with Teams for seamless communication.

There are two main methods to achieve telephony integration with MS Teams Voice: Operator Connect and Direct Routing.

What is Direct Routing?

Introduced in 2018, Direct Routing allows Teams administrators to connect their Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) system to Microsoft Teams. This method requires configuring a Session Border Controller (SBC) to route calls between Teams and the PSTN.

Direct Routing offers flexibility and can support complex configurations, making it suitable for organizations with specific needs.

What is Operator Connect?

Launched in 2021 as an evolution of Direct Routing, Operator Connect simplifies the integration of PSTN services with Microsoft Teams. Unlike Direct Routing, Operator Connect requires minimal configuration and no coding.

Operator Connect’s ability to consolidate internal communications infrastructure efficiently makes it an ideal choice for organizations seeking a quick, straightforward setup.

Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing

You can use the table below as a quick comparison between Operator Connect and Direct Routing. We’ll go into more detail about each of these components later on in our guide.

Operator ConnectDirect Routing
Ideal use case scenariosCloud-first organization

Remote work environments

Use of modern calling devices (smartphones, Teams Phones, laptops)
Legacy PBX integration

Analog phone support

Countries outside typical OC range
LimitationsFewer telecom provider choices can lead to higher costs

Less control over routing
Requires technical expertise and resources

Higher initial investment

Resource-intensive ongoing management
Setup needsMinimal technical expertise required

Operator-managed infrastructure
Higher technical expertise required

SBC and SIP trunk setup

Continuous telephony management
LicensesE5 License OR (Teams User License + Teams Phone License)

1 Resource Account with auto attendant if shared calling + Operator Number (1 per user if no shared calling)
E5 License OR (Teams User License + Teams Phone License)

1 Resource Account with auto attendant if shared calling + Operator Number (1 per user if no shared calling)

SBC license
CostsLower upfront costs

Predictable subscription-based pricing

Potentially higher recurring costs
Higher initial costs

Flexibility in choosing telecom providers

Long-term savings potential

Ideal scenarios

Operator Connect

Operator Connect is ideal for cloud-first organizations that prioritize easy integration with Microsoft Teams and minimal on-premises infrastructure. It’s also perfect for remote work environments, providing seamless connectivity for employees who rely on modern calling devices such as smartphones, Teams phones, and laptops.

This solution is designed for businesses that value quick deployment and simplified management, allowing IT teams to focus on strategic initiatives rather than maintaining complex telephony systems. Operator Connect also offers robust support and service level agreements, making it an attractive choice for companies seeking reliability and ease of use.

Direct Routing

Direct Routing is ideal for organizations that need to integrate legacy PBX systems with Microsoft Teams. It supports analog phones and other traditional telephony devices, making it perfect for businesses that still rely on these technologies.

Direct Routing is also the best option for companies operating in countries outside the typical support range of Operator Connect because it provides greater flexibility in choosing telecom providers. This solution suits enterprises with specific telephony requirements, advanced routing needs, and the technical expertise to manage a more complex setup. Ultimately, it allows organizations to leverage existing telephony investments while ensuring seamless integration with the modern capabilities of Microsoft Teams.

Limitations

Operator Connect

While Operator Connect is easy to set up and manage, it’s limited by its reliance on certified operators, which may restrict choices for telecom providers. This restriction can lead to higher costs if competitive pricing is unavailable in certain regions. It also lacks the flexibility to integrate with legacy systems or analog devices, making it less suitable for organizations with existing telephony infrastructure.

Additionally, Operator Connect may not cover all countries, limiting its global reach for businesses operating in less common regions. Finally, the control over routing and advanced telephony features is less granular compared to Direct Routing.

Direct Routing

Direct Routing offers greater flexibility but requires more technical expertise and resources to set up and maintain. Managing SBCs and integrating them with existing telephony systems can be challenging for organizations without dedicated IT staff. This more complex solution demands a higher initial investment in both time and money, as it often involves purchasing and configuring additional hardware.

While Direct Routing provides extensive control and customization, this level of detail may be unnecessary for smaller businesses or those seeking a simpler setup. Additionally, ongoing management and troubleshooting can be resource-intensive, making it less appealing for organizations looking for a low-maintenance solution.

Setup needs

Operator Connect

Operator Connect is designed to be straightforward and easy to set up, requiring minimal technical expertise. It involves selecting a certified operator from within the Microsoft Teams admin center and following simple prompts to connect and manage phone numbers. The operator handles the majority of the infrastructure, including Session Border Controllers (SBCs), making the process quick and user-friendly.

This approach reduces the need for in-depth technical knowledge or additional hardware, allowing for faster deployment and management.

For detailed instructions on setting up Operator Connect with Telnyx, you can refer to our Operator Connect guide.


Direct Routing

Direct Routing offers greater control over the telephony environment than Operator Connect. It also allows for customized routing policies and integration with existing systems. However, it requires a higher level of technical expertise and involvement. The more detailed configuration required by Direct Routing includes:

  • SBCs—either on-premise or in the cloud—to connect existing telephony infrastructure to Microsoft Teams.
  • SIP trunk setup.
  • Continuous management of the telephony components.

For detailed instructions on setting up Direct Routing with Telnyx, you can refer to our Direct Routing configuration guide.


Required licenses

Operator Connect

Operator Connect requires users to have Microsoft Teams licenses that include the Phone System add-on. This add-on is essential for enabling calling capabilities within Teams. Businesses also need to ensure they have sufficient user licenses for those who will be assigned phone numbers through Operator Connect. These licenses allow users to make and receive calls within the Teams environment, leveraging the operator-managed PSTN connectivity.

The simplicity of this licensing model aligns with the overall ease of setup and management that Operator Connect offers.

  • M365 or O365 user license
  • Teams Phone System license (included in E5 user license)

Direct Routing

Direct Routing requires the same licenses as Operator Connect. Beyond these licenses, organizations need to ensure they have licenses for any additional components they may use, such as SBCs. Users assigned phone numbers through Direct Routing need appropriate licenses to handle PSTN calls.

This setup often involves a more complex licensing structure due to the need to integrate with existing telephony systems and infrastructure. The comprehensive control and customization offered by Direct Routing come with the necessity for more detailed licensing management.

Telnyx offers a proprietary, Microsoft-certified SBC, which is included in both Direct Routing and Operator Connect plans without additional charge. This setup eliminates extra costs and ensures seamless support and expertise compared to other providers.


Costs

Operator Connect

Operator Connect generally involves lower upfront costs due to its straightforward setup, which doesn't require additional hardware or significant technical expertise. The primary expenses are related to the Microsoft Teams licenses with Phone System add-ons and the service fees from the chosen operator.

This model provides predictable, subscription-based pricing, making budgeting easier. However, the reliance on certified operators can sometimes lead to higher recurring costs compared to a fully self-managed solution. Overall, Operator Connect is cost-effective for organizations seeking a quick and simple deployment without heavy initial investments.

Direct Routing

Direct Routing can involve higher upfront costs because it often requires the purchase and setup of associated infrastructure such as SBCs. While Telnyx does not charge for its SBC, many vendors do. Organizations also need Microsoft Teams licenses with Phone System add-ons, but they benefit from the flexibility to choose their own telecom providers, which can lead to competitive call rates.

The initial investment in equipment and the need for technical expertise can increase costs, especially during the setup phase. However, Direct Routing may offer long-term savings through reduced call charges and the ability to integrate with existing telephony infrastructure. The costs are more variable and depend on the complexity and scale of the deployment.

Telnyx provides competitive pricing and global coverage for both Operator Connect and Direct Routing.

General considerations

When setting up either Operator Connect or Direct Routing, there are several additional features you should consider. Here are the primary things you should consider when choosing either Operator Connect or Direct Routing for MS Teams Voice integration:

Emergency addresses

Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing require accurate emergency addresses for E911 compliance. Each user’s location should be up-to-date to enable precise routing of emergency calls. This setup is crucial for regulatory compliance and user safety, ensuring emergency services can respond promptly and accurately.

Auto attendant

An auto attendant in Microsoft Teams allows callers to navigate a menu system to reach the appropriate department, person, or resource within an organization. It can route calls based on input to destinations such as an operator, individual, voicemail, another auto attendant, or external numbers. Auto attendants can also play announcements and handle after-hours and holiday call flows.

Auto attendant configuration involves setting up general information, call flows, dial scope, resource accounts, and authorized users.

Voicemail

Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing support Microsoft Teams voicemail integration. Ensure users are properly licensed and configured within Teams to access voicemail features. Voicemail settings and management are handled within the Teams admin center, providing a consistent experience across both connection methods.

Porting numbers

Porting numbers to Telnyx for both Operator Connect and Direct Routing requires submitting a port request via the Telnyx portal. Ensure all required documentation is accurate to avoid delays. The process typically includes validation, authorization, and coordination with your current provider to ensure a smooth transition.

MS Teams Voice integration provider considerations

In addition to features and capabilities, there are a few main factors you should consider when choosing an Operator Connect or Direct Routing provider:

Global presence

The support range for approved Microsoft Operators varies. To understand which countries your provider of choice supports, check the Teams Admin Center Operator list.

It’s also essential to know if your provider is a carrier or a licensed reseller, as this can affect their service capabilities in a given country. For instance, licensed resellers may provide limited abilities to resell those same services to your own customers. Direct carriers don’t experience this issue.

Telnyx is a direct carrier that provides global coverage in over 40 locations.


Support

Choosing a provider with expert support is crucial for both Operator Connect and Direct Routing. Since you’re using a third-party solution to run your Voice infrastructure, you'll want to choose an experienced operator or channel partner to manage your services effectively.

Comprehensive support is essential for seamless integration and ongoing management, helping to prevent problems and streamline the setup process. Opting for a provider with expertise and cost-effective support can significantly enhance the overall experience and reliability of your PSTN integration.

Telnyx offers 24/7 support to all customers at no additional cost to reduce Operator Connect or Direct Routing setup issues and ensure faster issue resolution.


Network quality

Not all Operator networks are equally powerful. To ensure low latency, high-quality calls, you should prioritize a provider that offers global coverage on a fast network.

Telnyx’s private global network takes your calls off the public internet, ensuring every call is crystal clear and secure.

Advanced configuration

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to address advanced features and tools you should consider in your Direct Routing or Operator Connect setup.

Shared calling

Shared calling allows multiple users to share one number. This configuration helps organizations save money by charging per number instead of per user, creating an opportunity to provide cost-effective team communication.

Desk phones

For Operator Connect, supported desk phones can seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams, enhancing office communication. Direct Routing allows users to connect almost any device - even analog phones - via certified SBCs which support traditional telephony devices. These configurations ensure versatile and robust desk phone integration within Teams.

Mobile device integration

Teams Phone Mobile enables users to use their SIM-enabled phone number as their Teams number, enabling seamless integration. Operator Connect also supports mobile devices, ensuring consistent communication across platforms. This advanced configuration enhances mobility and flexibility for users.

SMS integration

Integrating SMS with Operator Connect and Direct Routing enhances communication capabilities. Some third-party solutions offer seamless SMS integration with Microsoft Teams, allowing users to send and receive SMS directly within the Teams environment. This feature supports efficient messaging without leaving the Teams interface.

Call forwarding

Call forwarding ensures calls aren’t missed when a user is unavailable. Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing support this feature. You can set up call forwarding easily through Microsoft Teams settings, enhancing flexibility and availability for users.

Choose Telnyx as your PSTN provider for MS Teams Voice

Using Telnyx PSTN services with Microsoft Teams through Operator Connect and Direct Routing offers flexible and robust solutions to meet your organization's communication needs. Whether you need the simplicity of Operator Connect or the flexibility of Direct Routing, Telnyx provides the expertise and support to ensure a seamless integration.

Choosing the right PSTN provider is crucial for seamless and reliable communication. Integrating Telnyx with Microsoft Teams Voice through Operator Connect or Direct Routing offers businesses a powerful, flexible, and cost-effective solution for their communication needs.

By opting for Telnyx, you benefit from competitive pricing, flexible solutions, and a dedicated support team ready to assist with any challenges. Whether you’re a cloud-first organization looking for easy integration or a company with existing telephony infrastructure needing advanced customization, Telnyx provides the necessary tools and support to enhance your Teams experience.

Contact our team to learn about how you can ensure your business remains connected and efficient with Microsoft Teams Voice solutions like Operator Connect and Direct Routing.

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