Man on Telephone

Microsoft Teams: Operator Connect vs Direct Routing

Microsoft has recently launched a new service called Operator Connect, a new operator managed service allowing businesses to directly enable PSTN calling from their existing carriers in Microsoft Teams. This new service benefits smaller businesses who want to operate and manage their own phone numbers directly through Teams. For larger businesses with more complex needs, Operator Connect may not have the flexibility required to support hybrid working or other key functions such as call centre.

What is Operator Connect?

Microsoft Teams DDI pageOperator Connect is an operator managed service that brings PSTN calling to Teams. With Operator Connect, businesses can bring their own PSTN carrier (from Microsoft’s approved list) to enable Microsoft Teams calling via a managed service model.

IT Managers can then connect their provider and assign phone numbers to users all from within an “Operators” tab directly within the Teams admin dashboard.

Microsoft says Operator Connect aims to close the gap between Microsoft call plans and direct routing, allowing businesses to benefit from some of the cost savings that come from direct routing whilst choosing their own carrier. For smaller business with under 50 employees and no complex requirements, Operator Connect could be the logical choice.

Advantages of Operator Connect

  • Cost savings of a direct routing service – pay for what you use rather than per user
  • Bring your own carrier (if the carrier is approved by Microsoft)
  • It’s a simple solution for a business with no complex requirements
  • Can be activated quickly
  • Internal IT teams can assign telephone numbers to users without going through an external provider
  • Useful for businesses who want to manage their communications stack within the Teams admin centre

Disadvantages of Operator Connect

  • No Flexibility – solving complex requirements are limited to the services available
  • Tied into using the carriers available
  • There is no option to look at reducing costs with alternative solution providers and 3rd party options
  • Unable to support larger businesses with more complicated requirements
  • No dedicated support

Increase Power & Flexibility With Direct RoutingWoman on Call

Compared to Operator Connect, Direct Routing provides more power and flexibility and remains the better choice for larger businesses with more complex requirements.

Direct Routing provides the flexibility businesses need to integrate their existing telephony solution with Microsoft Teams. It also allows the integration of other business-critical functions such as call centres and on-the-road service teams.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams enables businesses to have a true Unified Communications and collaboration platform, managing both inbound and outbound calls as if it were a traditional PBX phone system. With Direct Routing, Microsoft Teams can be connected to a range of service providers and provides the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements such as the ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended working’ model.

Direct Routing vs Operator Connect, How Do They Compare?

Microsoft Operator Connect

  • A simple service for businesses requiring basic voice services
  • Anything additional to voice services needs to be managed by an external provider
  • Cannot support the complexities of larger businesses that have requirements like call centres, call-forking or control over SBC software levels
  • It does not allow a business to customise the services needed with connection to 3rd party systems
  • Locked into using services only available from large multi-tenanted inflexible carriers on the Microsoft approved list
  • There is no option to look elsewhere for a better solution to services like call recording, which may be more expensive through Operator Connect and not suitable for regulatory compliance in certain sectors
  • Limited by the global coverage that Operator Connect carriers for Microsoft may have
  • No dedicated point of contact for support

Direct Routing from Datasharp Integrated Communications

  • Single, dedicated, responsive point of contact for support (not Microsoft)
  • Supported with a dedicated SBC that be managed and controlled for any compatibility challenges
  • Cheaper call rates with a ‘pay for what you use’ contract
  • Support for additional integrations such as call centre, call recording and analytics software
  • Perfect for businesses with more complex communications requirements
  • Not limited to the carriers on the Microsoft approved list
  • Not limited to the global coverage of Microsoft approved carriers

Enable Hybrid Working With Direct Routing

Changes in working practices due to the pandemic mean that many businesses now have more complicated requirements if they are to fully support their remote working teams. Distributed teams are working online and although face-to-face meetings will return, many businesses will adopt, in whole or in part, flexible working practices.

For businesses to meet these changing demands, flexibility and dedicated tailored support is a must to keep communication flowing and business moving.


In summary, Operator Connect bridges the gap between Microsoft Calling Plans and Direct Routing, providing more options to smaller businesses. Whilst an attractive solution, it has limitations that larger businesses will find difficult to address.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams from Datasharp Integrated Communications provides a future-proof solution with much greater flexibility and a dedicated support package.

Find out more about Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

About Datasharp Integrated Communications

Datasharp Integrated Communications is an award-winning, leading provider of Unified Communications & collaboration solutions including voice, data, mobile, video, network security and contact centre technology for businesses of 50 – 5,000 staff.

We are a premier member of the Datasharp Group – established in 1980 – one of the longest-standing and most respected communications solution providers in the UK.

We have clients across the south of England and in Europe and our own, on-premises, 1,000 ft² Technology Suite at our Bath office, where we host regular events and showcase technology solutions for our clients. Contact us for your free comms audit or product demo.

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