Microsoft Teams Direct Routing vs. Operator Connect

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing vs. Operator Connect

Teams Operator Connect

With the ever-increasing demand for cloud based unified communications, Microsoft have been adding calling features to Teams to give users a complete communication and collaboration platform that employees can access from home or the office. Microsoft recently created Teams Phone with Calling Plans to provide telephony within Teams with advanced features such as call transfers, multi-level auto attendants and call queues. Many Teams users who want to use this feature would rather use their own carrier for external calls, and don’t want to upgrade their existing infrastructure. That’s where Direct Routing and Operator Connect can help.

What is Direct Routing?

Direct Routing was introduced by Microsoft for users that want to route Microsoft Teams to the PSTN. It allows users to connect external phone lines and use Teams as an office phone system. With Direct Routing you can use your existing carrier and infrastructure, which is one of the main benefits as many companies that want to use Teams as their telephony system are tied into long contracts with their existing provider with costly early exit fees.

Direct Routing Benefits

  • No need to replace infrastructure
  • Broad geographic coverage (even in areas not covered by Microsoft)
  • More flexibility than Operator Connect
  • Interoperability with analogue devices
  • Complete cloud solution with seamless migration

What is Operator Connect?

Operator Connect was announced at Microsoft’s Ignite event in 2021. Operator Connect is an operator-managed service that allows businesses to “bring their own carrier” or “operator” to power calling in Teams. More specifically, users enable PSTN calling from their existing carriers directly in Teams without using Direct Routing. It is a simpler and more easily managed Teams calling solution than Direct Routing, but also lacks some of the more advanced features.

Operator Connect Benefits

  • Choice of carriers from an approved list
  • Carriers provide high-level tech support for reliable business continuity
  • Easy to set up and migration process
  • Carriers are responsible for infrastructure
  • No need to purchase your own session border controllers (SBCs)
  • “Pay-as-you-go” pricing structure ensures you only pay for what you use

Direct Routing vs. Operator Connect

Operator Connect is a simpler service for businesses that require basic voice services, whereas Direct Routing is a more complex solution for larger organisations. For most businesses just wanting telephony through Teams, Operator Connect is a better choice. It provides the same basic functionality as Direct Routing and is easier to manage. Plus, Microsoft has qualified all of the carriers.  However, Direct Routing is a more flexible solution and provides more complex functions that Operator Connect does not, such as call centres and call forking.

To summarise, Operator Connect fills the gap between Microsoft’s own Calling Plan solution, and Direct Routing. While suitable for most businesses looking for a Teams telephony solution, Operator Connect has limitations in functionality and complexity, which leaves Direct Routing as the right choice for some.

Get in Touch

If you’re already using Microsoft Teams for video, chat and collaboration, why not integrate your telephony for a unified solution staff can access from anywhere? Get in touch for a no-obligation discussion with our UC consultants by calling 0800 368 7358 or visit our contact page.