Operator Connect versus Direct Routing

Microsoft recently launched a new service called Operator Connect, a new Operator-managed service that allows businesses to enable PSTN calling directly from their existing providers in Microsoft Teams. This new service will benefit smaller businesses that want to manage and manage their own phone numbers directly through Teams. For larger companies with more complex needs, Operator Connect may not have the flexibility needed to support hybrid working or other key functions such as a call center.

What is Operator Connect?

Operator Connect is an operator-managed service that brings PSTN calls to Teams. Operator Connect allows businesses to bring their own PSTN provider (from Microsoft’s approved list) to enable Microsoft Teams calling through a managed service model.

IT managers can then connect their provider and assign phone numbers to users, all from an ‘Operators’ tab directly in the Teams admin dashboard.

Microsoft says Operator Connect aims to close the gap between Microsoft call plans and Direct Routing, allowing businesses to take advantage of some of the cost savings that come from direct routing while choosing their own provider. For smaller companies with fewer than 50 employees and no complex requirements, Operator Connect could be the obvious choice.

Benefits of Operator Connect

  • Bring your own Operator (if the Operator is approved by Microsoft)
  • It is a simple solution for a company with no complex requirements
  • Can be activated quickly
  • Internal IT teams can assign phone numbers to users without going through an outside provider
  • Useful for companies that want to manage their communication stack in the Teams admin center

Nadelen van Operator Connect

  • Geen flexibiliteit – het oplossen van complexe vereisten is beperkt tot de beschikbare services
  • Alleen mogelijk in combinatie met de door Microsoft geselecteerde Service Providers
  • De geselecteerde Service Providers zijn minder geschikt voor de Nederlandse en Belgische markt.
  • Er is geen optie om kosten te verlagen met alternatieve oplossingsaanbieders en opties van derden
  • Kan bedrijven met ingewikkeldere vereisten niet ondersteunen
  • Geen speciale ondersteuning

Disadvantages of Operator Connect

  • No flexibility – solving complex requirements is limited to the available services
  • Only possible in combination with Service Providers selected by Microsoft
  • There is no option to reduce costs with alternative solution providers and third party options
  • Cannot support companies with more complex requirements
  • No special support

Increase power and flexibility with Direct Routing

Compared to Operator Connect, Direct Routing offers more power and flexibility and remains the better choice for larger companies with more complex requirements.

Direct Routing offers the flexibility companies need to integrate their existing telephony solution with Microsoft Teams. It also enables the integration of other business-critical functions, such as call centers and on-the-road service teams.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams enables businesses to have a true unified communications and collaboration platform, managing both inbound and outbound calls as if it were a traditional PBX phone system. Direct Routing allows Microsoft Teams to connect to a range of service providers and offers the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements, such as the ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended working’ model.

Direct Routing vs Operator Connect, how do they compare?

Microsoft Operator Connect:

  • A ‘simple’ service for businesses that need basic voice services
  • Everything besides voice services must be managed by a third-party provider
  • Cannot support the complexity of larger companies with requirements such as call centers, call forking, or control over SBC software levels
  • It does not allow a company to customize the services required with connection to third party systems
  • There is no option to look elsewhere for a better solution for services such as call recording, which may be more expensive through Operator Connect and may not be suitable for regulatory compliance in certain industries
  • Limited by the global coverage that Operator Connect providers may have for Microsoft
  • No fixed point of contact for support

Direct Routing:

  • One dedicated, responsive point of contact for support (not Microsoft)
  • Supported with a dedicated SBC that can be managed and checked for all compatibility issues
  • Cheaper calling rates with a ‘pay for what you use’ contract
  • Possible support for additional integrations such as call center, call recording and analytics software
  • Perfect for businesses with more complex communication requirements
  • Not limited to the Service Providers on the Microsoft approved list
  • Not limited to worldwide coverage from Microsoft-approved providers

Enable hybrid working with Direct Routing

Changes in work practices due to the pandemic mean that many companies now have more complex requirements if they want to fully support their remote work teams. Distributed teams work online and while face-to-face meetings will return, many companies will adopt flexible working practices in whole or in part.

To meet these changing demands, flexibility and dedicated, tailored support are a must to keep communication flowing and business moving.