Microsoft dials up operators for Teams calls

Recent results from Zoom only serve to illustrate how important videoconferencing software has become during the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike its competitors, Zoom has also joined the elite group of companies whose name has now become a verb.

Of course, competitors in this field are not sitting still, as already remarked by Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter. Indeed, Microsoft has also been doing pretty well from the rising demand for digital services during the pandemic.

Microsoft Teams forms a key part of the software giant's approach to flexible working as part of its Productivity and Business Processes segment.

Connecting you: Microsoft has announced integration for Teams with PSTN, pushing it further towards unified communications.  (Source: Museums Victoria on Unsplash)
Connecting you: Microsoft has announced integration for Teams with PSTN, pushing it further towards unified communications.
(Source: Museums Victoria on Unsplash)

And use of the product has been growing. In its results presentation for the recent quarter, Microsoft said 117 organizations have more than 100,000 users of Teams, and over 2,700 organizations have over 10,000 users.

It added that Teams has nearly 60 million daily active users on mobile alone.

Call me up, Teams

During its annual Ignite event, Microsoft also unveiled a raft of new features for Microsoft Teams that are designed to considerably boost its standing in the communications and collaboration field.

From a telco perspective, particularly worth noting is the new Operator Connect feature, along with updates to Teams Calling.

Operator Connect, which will become available for "public preview" later this year, is a new way to enable old-fashioned telephone calls for Teams using the PSTN. The service allows Teams administrators to provision phone numbers to their users, with no required hardware.

As Microsoft noted, the need to have a phone number and make calls still exists; Operator Connect also allows Teams users to continue with their existing operator, "if they are participating in the program."

Initial partners include BT, Deutsche Telekom, Intrado, NTT, Nuwave, Orange Business Services, Pure IP, Rogers, Swisscom, TATA, Telenor, and Verizon.

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Operator Connect forms part of the wider Microsoft Teams calling service portfolio, which is set to get further additions over the year including Operator Connect Conferencing, which allows users to add telephony operator dial-in numbers to a Microsoft Audio Conferencing bridge; and endpoint transfer, to enable calls to be moved between different devices, such as from laptops to mobile phones.

Furthermore, Teams Calling plans will be available in a further eight markets by the end of June.

The new markets are New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, Norway, and Slovakia. Microsoft Teams Calling plans will then be available in 26 markets.

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Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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