Why Aussie telcos are connecting voice services to Microsoft Teams

Macquarie Telecom and Optus join Vocus and Telstra in providing internal voice calls via Microsoft Teams.

Virtual security technology focuses on the Microsoft Teams logo as someone uses her mobile phone.
Thinkstock / Xresch / Microsoft

This week, Australian businesses got a third option for voice calling services through Microsoft Teams, this time from Macquarie Telecom and Optus. Telstra has offered such a service for roughly two years and in March Vocus announced its own Teams service for its wholesale customers in Australia. Macquarie Telecom also offers a similar service with Cisco WebEx via its partners.

Gartner senior principal analyst Bjarne Munch says there are two main reasons for this trend of connecting voice service with a collaboration platform: more people working from home and enterprises looking to move to SIP (session initiated protocol) trunking.

Macquarie Telecom and Optus said the service was in response to demand from existing and prospective customers, with some planning to maintain work from home policies even after restrictions due to the novel coronavirus are lifted. Optus also cited the increased number of people working from home. According to Microsoft, Teams usage increased to more than 75 million daily active users globally.

Telcos use SIP trunking to integrate with Microsoft Teams

SIP trunking is an IP connection from an enterprise PBX to a cloud provider telephony service. Enterprises like it because they can get rid of expensive Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and public switched telephone network (PSTN) access services.

“SIP trunking is rather basic. But right now this is what most enterprises are migrating towards with their telephony solutions right now in the Australian market,” Gartner’s Munch told Computerworld Australia.

With ISDN and PSTN set to move from the carriers to the National Broadband Network (NBN), the carriers started to push the move of telephony systems onto enterprises’ WANs and then using SIP trunking to help connect to the public telephony network, Munch explained.

A collaboration platform such as Teams can only make internal phone calls, Munch noted, as it does not connect yet to the public telephony network in Australia.

The best option would be to have all telephony sit within Teams

The current offers aren’t revolutionary nor the best there could be. According to Munch, Cisco’s unified communications services, Mitel and My Net Phone, already have full telephony within their platform, which Microsoft does not have.

“The best option, which is not available for Microsoft Teams, would be if … all telephony would sit within Microsoft Teams. You would like to be able to connect directly to the public telephone network from Microsoft Teams. [Unlike the current Teams offerings,] you wouldn’t really want to go through another provider’s SIP trunk solution that adds an extra cost because you are gonna pay for someone to manage it for you,” he explained. An all-in-Teams offering would be more cost-effective if it ever were to exist, he said.

Still, the telcos’ Teams integration is a positive move, Munch said. With more options in the market, “enterprises can move into that SIP trunking solution [to] they lower their cost. Using a SIP trunk solution is cheaper than having these traditional ISDN and PSTN services that connect your office to the telephone network.”

“What they’re doing is part of a broader trend we’re already seeing. They’re taking their platform that they already have and tweaking some of the functionality to make it useful in the home-work environment, which is great,” Munch said. “It’s a migration that I think we will continue to see. I think it’s part of an ongoing trend, where providers are just tweaking what they’re doing to fit the home-work environment.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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