This article provides an overview and describes what Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams is. In June 2021 Operator Connect became available in preview and it showed up in my lab tenant. This new service option might be interesting for you if you want to integrate modern PSTN calling capabilities within your modern workplace architecture based on Microsoft Teams.
It’s an easier approach for telephony than Direct Routing but not that you have to port all your numbers to Microsoft. But wait, let’s just recap on calling options for Microsoft Teams first to get the big picture and where Operator Connect fits in.
So, that’s what’s available basically. Operator Connect is a new option which I would position between Calling Plans and Direct Routing, especially because it is a service where you do not need to maintain your own SBC and can control your Teams calling straight out of the Teams Admin Center.
This might be of interest for you if you cannot get calling plans in your region at the moment, your preferred operator is member of the Microsoft Operator Connect program or you are ok with finding a new provider/operator to add calling to Microsoft Teams.
As depicted above Operator Connect is when you just connect or order phone numbers by utilizing one of the available Operators and the Operator runs the service for you. You don’t have to use deploy a SBC and manage the SBC however you need check if you can go that way. In case you still have legacy or interop requirements, e.g. you need to connect analog intercoms, legacy PBX and maybe DECT infrastructure, at least for a grace period, you might need to go along with Microsoft Teams Direct Routing or decommission legacy calling systems before.
Conclusion, opinion and summary
I like that Operator Connect is available (in preview) to provide a new easy means of PSTN connectivity for Microsoft Teams. I’d guess that more and more Operators or PSTN carriers will join Microsoft’s Operator Connect program due to the fact that calling minutes in Teams Direct Routing have grown 8-fold within the last year and PSTN calling plan rose by four-times, based on the blog post Introducing Operator Connect and more Teams Calling updates – Microsoft Tech Community. So stay tuned and check out your Teams Admin Center’s Operator space to see if there are new PSTN carriers available in the future to consider utilizing Operator Connect.