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The Definitive Guide to Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

microsoft teams direct routing

For businesses, especially medium to large-sized companies, there are instances where communication among colleagues or to clients becomes an issue. It may be the area has a bad mobile signal, no working telephone lines are present, or there is no internet connection. Not only that but when the organization plans to upgrade its telephone plans to avail more communication features, it significantly increases the operational cost of the company.

One of the solutions to these problems is to connect the business’s current telephony structure to its MS Teams network via Direct Routing. But what exactly is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing? How does it work? Are there additional benefits to it for businesses? How does it differ from Microsoft’s Calling Plan? What are the requirements for Direct Routing’s integration into MS Teams? And how to set it up? All of the questions will be answered below.

What is Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is a telephony solution that empowers organizations to integrate their existing phone systems with the Teams platform. This is achieved by connecting Session Border Controllers (SBCs) directly to Teams. SBCs serve as the bridge between the organization’s communications infrastructure and the Microsoft Teams service, facilitating seamless transactions.

By leveraging Direct Routing, users can make and receive calls within the Teams interface, transforming it into a comprehensive communication hub. This approach enables organizations to retain their current telephony setup while taking advantage of Teams’ collaborative features. Direct Routing’s flexibility accommodates diverse telephony configurations, making it a versatile solution for businesses seeking to unify their communication tools and networks.

Direct Routing enhances the interoperability of Microsoft Teams, providing a bridge between traditional telephony systems and the modern, collaborative environment of Teams, fostering efficient and integrated communication within organizations.

How Does Direct Routing Work?

It works by connecting an organization’s existing telephony infrastructure with Microsoft Teams, enabling seamless voice communication within the platform. The key component in this process is the Session Border Controller (SBC). Organizations install SBCs, which act as intermediaries between their private network and the Microsoft Teams service.

Firstly, SBCs establish a secure connection to the Teams service, allowing voice traffic to flow between the organization’s phone system and Teams. This connection adheres to industry standards, ensuring compatibility and security.

Secondly, users within Teams gain the ability to make and receive calls through the integrated telephony features. Direct Routing supports a range of telephony configurations, allowing for a tailored integration that aligns with the organization’s specific needs.

This approach offers flexibility and scalability, enabling organizations to leverage their existing investments in telephony infrastructure while benefiting from the collaborative and communication features of Microsoft Teams.

Benefits of Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

The adoption of Microsoft Teams Direct Routing provides several benefits for organizations seeking to integrate their telephony with the collaboration platform. Here are examples:

Cost Efficiency

Direct Routing allows organizations to leverage their existing telephony infrastructure, avoiding the need for a complete overhaul or migration to other Microsoft Calling Plans. This can result in significant cost savings, as it maximizes the use of current investments in on-premises phone systems.

Flexibility and Compatibility

MS Teams Direct Routing offers flexibility in telephony configurations, supporting various setups such as on-premises Private Branch EXchange (PBX) systems, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, or a hybrid of telephony solutions. This adaptability ensures compatibility with different organizational structures and telephony preferences.

Global Reach and Local Presence

Organizations can extend their global reach by connecting Microsoft Teams with telephony providers worldwide through Direct Routing. This enables users to make and receive calls globally while maintaining local phone numbers, improving accessibility and enhancing communication efficiency.

Unified Communication Experience

By integrating telephony features such as Direct Routing into Microsoft Teams, users benefit from a unified communication experience. They can seamlessly transition between collaboration tools and traditional phone functions, streamlining workflows and improving overall productivity.

Scalability and growth

As a business grows, so do its communication needs. Direct Routing supports this scaling demand by offering additional features to their telephony infrastructure alongside Microsoft Teams, ensuring that the communication system remains aligned with the organization’s expansion.

Enhanced Collaboration Features

Users gain access to advanced collaboration features within Microsoft Teams, such as document sharing, video conferencing, and chat, in addition to telephony functions. This integration enhances team collaboration by consolidating communication tools into a single platform.

Security and Compliance

Direct Routing adheres to industry standards and protocols, ensuring secure communication lines. This is crucial for organizations with strict security and compliance requirements, as it helps maintain the integrity and confidentiality of voice communications.

Customizable User Experience

Organizations can tailor the user experience to their specific needs by choosing the telephony setup that best aligns with their business requirements and operation style. This customizable approach allows for a more personalized and efficient communication environment.

In summary, Microsoft Teams Direct Routing offers a cost-effective, flexible, and feature-rich solution for integrating telephony with the collaboration platform, providing organizations with the tools they need to enhance communication, collaboration, and overall efficiency.

Microsoft Calling Plan vs. Microsoft Direct Routing

Microsoft’s Calling Plan and Direct Routing can both be integrated into Teams. However, the first serves as a telephony provider with consolidated billing, offering simplicity but potentially at higher costs.

In contrast, Microsoft Direct Routing allows organizations to connect their telephony infrastructure to Microsoft Teams, providing flexibility and cost-efficiency by leveraging existing systems, and customization in telephony configurations. The choice depends on whether users prefer an all-in-one solution or seek greater control and adaptability in telephony integration with Teams.

Microsoft Calling PlanMicrosoft Direct Routing
– Microsoft serves as the telephony service provider.

– Billing is consolidated within Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

– Straightforward, all-in-one solution managed by Microsoft.

– Suitable for organizations looking for simplicity and ease of management.

– May result in higher costs, especially for organizations with extensive telephony infrastructure.
– Organizations connect their telephony infrastructure (e.g., SBCs) to Microsoft Teams.

-Provides flexibility and customization in telephony configurations.

– Enables users to leverage existing telephony investments for potential cost savings.

– More suitable for organizations with specific telephony preferences or regulatory compliance requirements.

– Offers greater control over the telephony setup and billing arrangements based on existing agreements with telephony providers.

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing involve several components to ensure proper integration. Key elements include:

Various Microsoft 365 or Office 365 Licensing

Users must have either Microsoft 365 or Office 365 (Teams Phone, Microsoft Teams, Audio Conferencing, and Business Basic + Microsoft 365 Business Voice to Nonprofit E5) licenses/subscriptions, as Microsoft Teams is typically included in these plans. Licensing may vary based on the specific features and capabilities needed, but Teams licensing is a foundational requirement.

Phone System License

To use Direct Routing for telephony features in Microsoft Teams, users need a legitimate Phone System license which can be acquired through an MS Teams or MS 365 subscription. This license provides the necessary permissions for users to make and receive calls through Teams and is a crucial component for enabling telephony capabilities.

Call Plan or Direct Routing Add-on

Organizations must choose between Microsoft’s Calling Plan or implement Direct Routing. For Direct Routing, additional licensing or add-ons may be required, depending on the specific implementation and any associated third-party services.

Session Border Controller (SBC)

Since Direct Routing involves connecting to an organization’s telephony infrastructure, a Session Border Controller (SBC) is essential. Organizations may need to procure or configure their current SBCs, and the specific SBC requirements may depend on the chosen vendor and deployment scenario.

Operator Connect for Carrier Integration (Optional)

If the organization chooses to integrate a telephony carrier through Operator Connect, additional licensing or agreements with the carrier may be necessary. Operator Connect simplifies the connection between the telephony carrier and Microsoft Teams. For additional information, please inquire through the MS Teams’ customer support service.

How to Configure Call Routing for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

Configuring call routing for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing involves several steps to ensure seamless integration of telephony services. You can start by:

  1. Confirming that your Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription includes the necessary licenses, such as Microsoft Teams, Phone System, and any additional licenses required for Direct Routing.
  2. Deploy, connect, configure, and validate the Session Border Controllers (SBCs) in your network. These devices act as intermediaries between your telephony infrastructure and Microsoft Teams. Ensure that your SBCs are properly configured for security and interoperability with Teams.
  3. Create SIP trunks or directly connect your SBCs and your telephony infrastructure. This connection facilitates the exchange of voice traffic between Microsoft Teams and your existing telephony setup.
  4. In the Microsoft Teams admin center, set up voice routes to determine how calls are directed. Voice routes define the path that calls take through your network. Configure these routes based on factors like destination, cost, and availability.
  5. Configure dial plans to define valid numbering formats for your organization. Dial plans help ensure consistency in how phone numbers are formatted and dialed. This step is crucial for maintaining a standardized numbering convention.
  6. Assign phone numbers to users in the Teams admin center. Ensure that each user is associated with the appropriate phone number and that their configuration aligns with the defined voice routes and dial plans. In this step, you can also translate the numbers into an alternate format such as assigning each user a unique caller ID.
  7. Conduct thorough testing to ensure that call routing is functioning as expected. Test both incoming and outgoing calls to verify that calls are reaching the intended destinations without issues. Identify and address any issues during this testing phase with the MS Teams customer support service for assistance when issues arise.
  8. Implement monitoring tools to track call quality, system performance, and potential issues. Regularly review and optimize configurations as needed, especially if there are changes in your telephony infrastructure or organizational requirements.
  9. Document the call routing configuration, including details about voice routes, dial plans, SBC configurations, and user assignments. This documentation serves as a reference for troubleshooting and future maintenance.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Which type of companies benefit from Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?

      Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is particularly beneficial for companies that have existing investments in telephony infrastructure, such as on-premises PBX systems or SIP trunks, and seek to integrate these systems seamlessly with their collaboration platform.

      This solution is ideal for businesses looking to leverage their current telephony setup, maintain flexibility in choosing telephony providers, and optimize costs while enjoying the collaborative features of Microsoft Teams. It caters to organizations with diverse telephony preferences, regulatory compliance needs, or those prioritizing a customized and cost-effective approach to unified communication.

      Can I still use desk and softphones with Direct Routing?

      Yes, with Microsoft Teams Direct Routing, you can continue to use both desk phones and softphones. Direct Routing allows for the integration of various telephony endpoints, including traditional desk phones and software-based softphones.

      This flexibility enables users to make and receive calls using their preferred devices, accommodating diverse work preferences within the Microsoft Teams collaboration environment.

      Will Direct Routing cost more than my currency phone system?

      The cost comparison between Microsoft Teams Direct Routing and your current on-premises phone system depends on various factors such as the scale of your organization, existing telephony infrastructure, and specific feature requirements that you want to avail.

      While Direct Routing may involve initial setup costs and licensing fees, it often provides a cost-efficient option by leveraging your current investments and potentially reducing ongoing maintenance expenses.

      Additionally, Direct Routing allows for flexibility in choosing telephony providers, which can contribute to cost optimization. A careful assessment of your organization’s needs and a thorough cost analysis will determine whether Direct Routing offers a more economical solution compared to your existing phone system in your currency.


      Depending on where your business is based and the rate of dollar exchange, Direct Routing to your company’s MS Teams could be one of the best options for your communication needs in both flexibility and cost-efficiency.

      Since most organizations nowadays use telephony structures and Microsoft products for daily operations, half of your Direct Routing requirements may have already been fulfilled. All you need to do if you’re interested is to get an SBC and follow the configuration steps given above.

      But for now, do a cost analysis to figure out if MS Teams Direct Routing is a better investment for your organization’s communication needs than your current telephony structure and assess if it’s needed.

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