Operator Connect vs Direct Routing

Today, Microsoft Teams has become a common feature in the hybrid workplaces. While the service primarily serves internal communication, it now offers the option for external calls.

To make said calls with MS Teams, you need the proper connection. To achieve this, you have to connect Teams to the public telephony network or use IP telephony.

And of course, to complicate things, there are several ways to go about it.

Your options include a Calling Plan, Direct Routing, Direct Routing as a Service, and Operator Connect.

In this post, we’ll compare these options, how they work in, and talk about some alternative solutions.

Let’s go!

How does a Calling Plan work?

A Calling Plan means that you purchase your phone number directly from Microsoft, enabling you to make external calls.

It’s ideal for businesses that don’t require advanced telephony features and simply want to make and receive calls.

Pros and cons of Calling Plan:

Pros:

  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Lacks advanced telephony features
  • All number management is done via Microsoft

What is Direct Routing? (DR)

Direct Routing allows you to make and receive calls through Microsoft Teams by connecting the platform to the PTN (Public Telephony Network) via an approved partner.

With Direct Routing, you and your company can integrate your existing phone system with Microsoft Teams.

It’s a hands-on approach, allowing you to configure and support the connection as you see fit. Also possible to connect your own SIP trunks, achieving an end-to-end solution (E2ES).

All of this is made possible via an SBC (Session Border Controller), where you are responsible for the setup, troubleshooting, and administration. Meaning, if there’s any glitch with the audio codec, it’s up to you to fix it.

But as uncle Ben said to Peter Parker

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Licenses for Direct Routing

If you and your colleagues plan to use DR, you’ll need the right licenses. If you have E1 or E3 licenses, you’ll need the Phone System add-on for every user. If you have E5, it’s included.

Pros and cons of Direct Routing:

Pros:

  • Ability to integrate existing PBX for more advanced functionality
  • Complete ownership

Cons:

  • Requires high technical expertise due to complex setup
  • All troubleshooting regarding the SBC is handled internally
  • License requirements

What is Direct Routing as a Service (DRaaS)?

Not everyone has the ability or knowledge to manage their own SBC, and thats why some service providers to offer Direct Routing as a service (DRaaS).

Meaning that the service provider handles the setup, ensures call quality, and provides an interface where you manage your phone numbers and users.

So, you’re free from the responsibility and potential headaches that Direct Routing might bring.

However, DRaaS is managed by a third party, meaning the administrative part isn’t integrated into Microsoft Teams.

Pros and cons of Direct Routing as a Service (DRaaS):

Pros:

  • No complex setup and administration
  • Potential for PBX functionality
  • Relatively easy to get started.

Cons:

  • Fragmented administration where Teams and your numbers are managed in two different places
  • More expensive than Direct Routing due to third-party

What is Operator Connect?

Operator Connect can best be described as a new type of DRaaS where selected operators have integrated their telephony into Microsoft Teams. One could say that Microsoft has certified these operators to connect their telephony, making it available for customers in a simpler manner.

Unlike DRaaS, you handle everything related to numbers and users directly in the Teams Admin Center instead of managing it in a third-party system.

Operator Connect requires the Phone System license for all users and is easy to launch.

The major difference is the easier administration, but with restricted functionality. It’s “mass production”, plain and simple.

Pros and cons of Operator Connect:

Pros:

  • Easy to get started
  • All administration in one place.
  • The operator ensures QoS, SLA, and voice quality

Cons:

  • Additional licenses might be required, depending on the base license
  • Restricted to certified suppliers
  • Some providers offer mobile line status as an additional service

Direct Routing vs Operator Connect

At first glance, there isn’t much that sets them apart; both allow businesses to choose their own operator to make and receive calls in the Teams client.

With Operator Connect, all administration is done directly in the Teams Admin Center, while with Direct Routing, it’s done in a third-party portal.

Microsoft Direct Routing:

  • A flexible solution that you/your provider manages (if DRaaS)
  • Wider range of operators than Operator Connect
  • Support for integrations like call stats, call recording, and Contact Center
  • Full ownership of your SBC or the option to purchase as a service.

Microsoft Operator Connect:

  • Fewer connected operators
  • Managed in the Teams Admin Center
  • Doesn’t require extensive knowledge, DevOps, or similar
  • Possible to switch operators (depending on binding periods, of course)

What’s most important?

Well, why did I ask myself that question? It was probably meant to be rhetorical. It all boils down to what is actually most important for you and your company.

Is it straightforward license management or administration, PBX functionality, or just the basic dial tone that needs to be achieved?

The different solutions offer a degree of flexibility, but depending on how advanced your PBX solution is, Microsoft Teams might lack support for the feature.

And we also shouldn’t forget that, like many things, it’s a classic hype. NOTE: it’s not a passing trend, but rather a hype.

Many companies have jumped onto Microsoft Teams because they are “a hybrid workplace.” Once that was set up, the next thing came along – integrated telephony.

But at what cost?

If you haven’t found your “why” yet, it’s high time.

The most common feature customers ask for today is line status. Is it then reasonable to purchase potential additional licenses for such a trivial thing as that?

I, unfortunately, can’t answer that question, but I can tell you about another (and simpler) way you can do it.

Lynes and Teams

We, too, were about to get swept up in the hype and integrate our telephony with Teams. But in the end, we decided that we didn’t want to dilute our service by shifting our telephony over to another app.

With lynes as your PBX, you get free access to our Teams integration, which reflects your line status – both ways.

This means that your mobile will be busy when you’re in a Teams meeting, and your Teams status will be red when you’re on a phone call (on your mobile or computer).

Our integration thus solves the problem that the majority of companies are asking for, and in addition, our customers can choose to use Telia, Telenor, Three, Tele2, or our own subscriptions.

Pros and cons with Lynes:

Pros:

  • No additional licenses required
  • Line status synchronization between lynes and Teams
  • Full switchboard functionality.

Cons:

  • Two different apps.

Don’t fixate on integrating telephony into Teams just because everyone else is doing it. Who knows, maybe you don’t even need it?

Regardless of where you end up, what i wanted to explain in this post is that there are simple, moderately complex, and very advanced ways to integrate your telephony with Microsoft Teams.

Contact us, and we’ll tell you how to do it in the simplest way possible!

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Written by

Burhan Kesapli

Denna karismatiska herre har ett sött smeknamn med många kalorier, Bullen. Bullen har en intensiv energiförbrukning under dagen och narkolepsi efter 21.30. Drömmer om att springa långt på höga höjder.