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There was great excitement when Microsoft launched Operator Connect in 2021, and just as many questions.

It enhances the list of Microsoft’s solutions for calling functionality. The platform enables organizations to choose their own Teams PSTN carrier, from the selected operators, partnering with Microsoft.

With Operator connect organisations are able to manage their calling capabilities for teams, from within the Microsoft 365 administration portal. In this article, we’ll attempt to take you through some of the most frequently asked questions.

1) Is Operator Connect a replacement for Direct Routing?

Rather than being a replacement, Operator Connect provides a seamless calling option that companies can self-manage when integrating calling into Microsoft Teams. However, Operator Connect differs slightly from Direct Routing in that it delivers a direct peering architecture between a service provider (such as NTT), and Microsoft. It is also a lot easier and quicker to deploy.

With Operator Connect, IT teams will be able to connect to their provider and assign numbers to their users through the Microsoft 365 Administration Portal via the “Operators” tab. There’s no need for telephony expertise or carrier negotiations. If you already have a relationship with an Operator Connect partner – you can maintain that relationship going forward.

Learn more about the difference between Operator Connect and Direct Routing here.

2) Can you mix and match Operator Connect with Direct Routing?

Yes, you can. It can be used alongside Direct Routing, Calling Plans, or even both. In some cases, using it in conjunction with Direct Routing can also be a good choice for companies that require some of the functionalities offered by Direct Routing that isn’t yet available through Operator Connect.

For example, a company may be looking to integrate their legacy PBX infrastructure, which could be better suited for Direct Routing but still utilize Operator Connect for all standard voice users they need to onboard.

Going forward, the customer will have the option to migrate the services from Direct Routing to Operator Connect as new features become available or as their requirements change.

3) Can Operator Connect integrate with Webex calling plans and systems?

No. It is currently limited to the Microsoft Teams environment.

4) Since Microsoft Teams has the capability to make/receive calls, is PSTN still the way to go? 

PSTN covers both mobile and landline calls. While collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams are becoming increasingly popular, many customers still prefer picking up the phone to call if they want to speak to someone.

This is why it’s imperative to ensure that you have invested in a platform that isn’t just future-proof and is able to meet your existing collaboration needs (such as Microsoft Teams), but is also able to connect and integrate with PSTN calls.

5) Who provides support for Operator Connect?

Customers will receive support from both their chosen operator and Microsoft. In most cases, Microsoft will manage tickets for tenant-side related issues. Meanwhile, the operator will handle tickets for voice-related issues.

However, Microsoft has not dictated a service level, so the SLAs will depend on the operator themselves. For example, Operator Connect by NTT includes Support Services and provides ongoing support required for maintenance and upgrades to ensure the best possible experience.

Our length and experience in delivering telephony services and being a Microsoft Gold Partner for over 10 years also ensures the reliability and experience organizations require for voice services.

6) What is the typical ROI one can expect?

Upgrading to Microsoft Teams helps your organization to improve cost savings and ROI in several ways. Firstly, it combines all your communication and collaboration needs in one place. This means you no longer need to pay for separate apps and software licenses, web conferencing and audio conferencing.

Next, moving to the cloud and working through Microsoft Teams will make your legacy hardware redundant. This means you’ll no longer need to maintain complex PBX solutions. 

Further savings will come from reduced calls costs. With cloud telephony via Microsoft Teams, employees can make calls anywhere in the world without expensive long-distance charges.

What’s more, by upgrading to Microsoft Teams you maximize the benefits of your existing Microsoft investment. Teams will become the central hub where everything comes together. According to Forrester report on the Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Teams you can expect a big ROI from Microsoft Teams. Its report noted this could be up to 832% with a net present value (NPV) over three years of USD 27.1 million.

Keen to learn more about what to check before you choose your provider? Get our exclusive Operator Connect Buyer’s Guide here.