Widely considered the most popular way to leverage enterprise voice in Microsoft Teams, Direct Routing has taken the world by storm. Essentially, Direct Routing is Microsoft’s “Bring Your Own Carrier” service, allowing them to bring their own PSTN carrier into Teams.
With Direct Routing, you buy a third-party Session Border Controller (SBC) and connect the SBC to Microsoft’s Phone System. Direct Routing ensures you can use virtually any carrier to take advantage of voice in Teams, meaning you’re not limited by features or geo-restrictions of Microsoft’s calling plans.
From 2020, about 70% of all organizations said they plan to use Direct Routing to unlock the UCaaS capabilities of Microsoft Teams. But what are the requirements to access Direct Routing in Microsoft Teams?
Licensing for Direct Routing: Your Options
Direct Routing users in Microsoft Teams must have access to Microsoft Phone System, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Audio Conferencing. There are several ways to make sure you have all the licenses you need for your ecosystem.
The first option is to purchase a Microsoft 365 Business license and add Phone System functionality and Microsoft Teams audio conferencing separately. If you choose this option, you can purchase any of the Microsoft Business plans, which include access to Microsoft Teams, including:
- Core Business: $6 per month/user with access to all premium web and mobile versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and 24-hour support, 99.9% uptime guarantee, video calls, meetings and chat.
- Trade standard: $12.50 per month/user with all features of Business Basic plus access to webinars, Microsoft Access and Publisher, and desktop versions of Microsoft productivity apps.
- Business Premium: $22 per month/user with all standard and advanced threat protection and mobile/PC device management features. There is also a built-in calendar and messaging feature.
In addition to your Microsoft 365 plan, you’ll also need access to:
- Audio conference: One of the add-ons for Microsoft Teams. Audio conferencing lets you use a phone to connect to a Teams meeting. The exact price for Audio Conferencing depends on factors like your region, but prices start at $4 per month per user.
- Telephone standard of the teams: The standard Teams Phone add-on provides access to Teams Phone System, the hosted phone service that gives you PBX access. You’ll need to contact Microsoft or your Direct Routing provider for Teams Phone Standard access pricing.
If you want to avoid purchasing Phone System and Audio Conferencing separately, you can purchase an E5/A5/G5 plan. These premium plans come with phone system and audio conferencing already included, as well as premium access and compliance controls. Enterprise plans are a bit more expensive, starting at $57 per month per user with an annual commitment.
Depending on your needs, you may be able to contact Microsoft Teams to create a custom plan for your Microsoft Teams Direct Routing connectivity.
What else do you need for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?
Depending on your needs, there are also various other additional costs and licenses that you may need to think about. For example, you can leverage Microsoft Teams Meeting Room licenses alongside your Direct Routing license if you’re building meeting rooms for your hybrid teams.
It’s also worth looking into airtime credits if you’re going to be accessing toll-free numbers with your Direct Routing providers. Communications Credits are a pool of monthly minutes that you can leverage for auto attendants, call queues, and audio conferencing. Your Direct Routing provider may offer Airtime Credits as part of your plan.
Apart from your license, you will also need the following infrastructure for Direct Routing:
- Session boundary controllers: You will need a supported SBC provided by one of the certified companies working with Microsoft Teams. This provides your connection to Microsoft Phone System for PBX control.
- Telephone lines: Your Direct Routing provider should be able to provide one or more phone trunks connected to your SBCs, where you can access third-party entities.
- User register: You will need to have a user hosted in Microsoft 365. This means that if your company has an on-premises environment with hybrid connectivity to Microsoft 365, you will not be able to enable voice for Teams users hosted on-premises.
- Areas: Direct Routing businesses must have one or more domains added to their Microsoft 365 organization. You can’t just use the default domain.
- Public IP address: You will need a public IP address to connect to your SBC.
- Full domain name: A FQDN is required for your SBC.
You may also need to consider your connection points for Direct Routing, a public trusted certificate for your SBC, and a public DNS entry for your Session Edge Controller.
Configuring Microsoft Teams Direct Routing
Implementing a Direct Routing connection to Microsoft Teams so you can access the power of professional voice in your Teams environment can seem complex. There are different infrastructure requirements, as well as licensing considerations to take into account.
Even after you’ve chosen your Microsoft 365 policy and signed into Phone System, you’ll still need to thoroughly discuss your options with your Direct Routing provider to configure things like Location-Based Routing and Phone System. standard call routing.
The best way to ensure you get a good experience with Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams is to take your time to evaluate your options for the best routing provider. The right provider should be able to simplify your transition to Microsoft Teams UCaaS, and even provide guidance on what kind of licensing requirements you should be aware of.
Alternatively, you can always consider taking a simpler managed service approach to integrating your own operator into Teams by moving to Operator Connect.