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Blog · 18 May 2021

Unify your voice services and your collaboration apps with Operator Connect

Organisations are looking for a straightforward way to incorporate voice services with collaboration technologies to support new ways of working.

Jon Martin
General manager, unified communications professional services

There’s no doubt virtual meetings have been a big part of life for many homeworkers over the last year. According to Microsoft, Teams users placed over 650 million calls in October 2020 - up 11 fold from earlier that year.

It’s clear that, as businesses transition out of lockdown, they’re going to be less reliant on computer-based communications. Employees will need the ability to switch between dialling into audio and video meetings or conference calls, making phone calls and accessing all the functionality of Teams.

Organisations are actively looking for ways to easily merge their telephony capability, their online voice services (including conference calling) and their collaboration apps.

Simplifying telephony

A lot of businesses I’m talking to find ordering and managing their global telecoms complicated, disjointed and time-consuming. They’ve been relying on direct routing for their telephony, often finding it takes time to implement and manage, and can mean multiple orders, extra hardware and also licencing. These organisations are looking for a set up that brings all their voice communications together; a unified and dependable service that they can manage entirely online.

Since so many businesses are now using Microsoft Teams to run conference calls and meetings, it makes sense that this is where they would look to run all their voice services. Microsoft 365 customers have been asking for a way to keep their inbound and outbound voice with their own operator but to manage it through their normal Microsoft portal, rather than running the two services separately.

Integrating your voice services

This is where Operator Connect comes in. It’s a new service for bringing PSTN calling to Teams. With Operator Connect, you can order your voice services from a range of operators, all direct from your Microsoft portal. The portal acts like a shop window, allowing you to deal directly with the telco of your choice. You can compare global telecoms providers side by side and choose the ones that suit you.

You can save on the costs and complications of managing your own infrastructure and purchasing hardware. The service offers enhanced reliability and assistance with online support and service level agreements. Your chosen voice services operator manages PSTN calling services and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) for you, as well as providing technical support through a built-in service. And they’ll be able to provide detailed performance and experience data on your voice calls. You won’t have to provide access to your tenant (as you would have to do with direct routing). Instead, the operator will extract the data automatically using APIs.

In addition to being a voice services operator, we’re also a designated partner in Operator Connect Conferencing. This uses the same administrator interface as Operator Connect and lets you add operator dial-in numbers to a Microsoft Audio Conferencing bridge. If your business runs multiple conference calling services, you can use the same voice platform to connect to them. Plus, you can carry on with your preferred voice services and conferencing operator contracts as you migrate existing PSTN infrastructure to the cloud, or even diversify your PSTN infrastructure to include additional qualified operators. With expanded geographic dial-in coverage, this is an ideal option for global businesses.

Our partnership with Microsoft

We’re excited to be one of the initial wave of 12 development partners for these new services. We’ll be working closely with Microsoft to create easy, integrated experiences for customers, offering new ways to add and manage voice calling. Our inclusion in the initial wave reflects the strengthening of our relationship with Microsoft. It demonstrates our deep expertise and experience in delivering managed services to customers based around Microsoft solutions, including our proven competency in Teams Enterprise Voice.

What sets us apart from other development partners in this wave is our ability to interconnect all of the major unified communications voice and collaboration platforms, so you can build a set up that perfectly supports your organisation.

We’re moving more and more of our voice network into the cloud. We’re digitising the order journey, making it simple and easy for you to place an order, navigate the minefield of regulation, manage your billing, and get online support. Operator Connect is part of the wider future of voice communications at BT, providing greater choice, flexibility, global connections and digital transactions.

To find out more about Operator Connect and Operator Connect Conferencing, and how you can order and deal with your telephony all from one place, please talk to one of our specialists.

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