Skype For Business Telephony Features – Using a PSTN service to call Skype for Business at home can be complicated with a long list of requirements and prerequisites. On the other hand, making PSTN calls in the cloud is much easier.
One of the areas where Microsoft’s Lync and Skype for Business products have been most successful is replacing business phone systems (commonly called private branch exchanges or PBX systems). This success has been compounded by an evolving ecosystem of additional devices and products, and Skype for Business has grown to offer a robust feature set that matches or exceeds that offered by legacy PBX systems, combined with all the benefits of its integration with Windows. . , Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint.
Skype For Business Telephony Features
When Microsoft added Lync Online to the Office 365 product portfolio, there was a problem: customers who purchased the on-premises version of Lync had to give up the ability to make and receive regular calls through Lync Online. This forces customers to adopt one of two different strategies: Use Office 365 only for attendance, meetings, and instant messaging; Use hybrid environments and keep all phone features in place; Or opt out of Lync Online and work with an on-premises system.
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The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) was the Internet before the Internet: a global networked telecommunications system based largely on open protocols that was initially expensive and limited, but soon became available worldwide. A lot of careful design, engineering and politics went into creating and operating around the world. All its complexity is mostly hidden from the user; People expected to be able to call local, long-distance, or international numbers with reliable billing, decent voice quality, and access to additional services such as emergency calls (911, 999 in the US). in UK etc.), Caller ID etc. One of the first challenges Microsoft faced with native products was replicating these features, especially for emergency calls, but the company was able to overcome them through clever design and engineering.
The question of how to connect cloud-based services with the same capabilities is more complex. It’s one thing to sell a domestic product connected to the country’s local telephone system; Creating global services that work everywhere, comply with local laws and regulations (eg India’s ban on voice over IP to bypass long distance payments) and global infrastructure for payments and transfers across national borders.
When Microsoft bought Skype, it had a strong global network of local PSTN points of view (POPs), as well as a lot of specialized expertise in connecting between PSTNs. It took some time for this knowledge to trickle down to Skype for Business, but now Microsoft is launching a demo called “Cloud PBX with PSTN Calls.” This new feature of Office 365 allows customers to replace all cloud systems with their own PBX systems. With this feature, registered users get their own PSTN phone number, which has two benefits: it can make calls from any phone (provided its Skype client calls you) and allows Skype for Business customers to use it on the go. . Make a regular phone call. (Note that you’ll see this feature labeled “Skype for Business Domestic and International Calls” on the Office 365 administration page.)
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, a separate feature known as the Advanced Meetings Add-on for Skype for Business that allows users to add audio conferencing to Skype for Business meetings.
As I wrote this in July 2015, PSTN calling was only available as an example. And, unlike Google’s preview, when a new service is available globally via a “preview” on a web page, it’s a real preview: it’s only available to Office 365 customers. You need an invitation code and your tenant must be a commercial tenant in the US. No government or academic tenants were supported, at least in the first wave of previews. I expect Microsoft to expand the preview before PSTN calling appears as a feature, but the company hasn’t said anything public about a timetable for doing so or rolling out the feature to other countries. As this feature is currently in preview, the user interface, registration process, and feature set may change during the preview period. Keep this in mind as you read this.
Using a PSTN service to call Skype for Business at home can be complicated with a long list of requirements and prerequisites. On the other hand, making PSTN calls in the cloud is much easier. To preview, the tenant must be located in the United States and you must be ready to use and select a phone number from a list of selected cities (including Memphis, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, and Dallas). The Office 365 tenant must be on the Enterprise plan and users connecting to Skype PSTN calls must have at least a Skype for Business 2 license (including E3 and E4 licenses). This service is not currently available for government or educational tenants. As with the PSTN conferencing preview, you can use either cloud-only or hybrid Skype for Business tenants, but all users who add PSTN calling must be cloud-only.
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Provide emergency call service through the 911 system during the demonstration. 911 calls do not appear to be blocked, but they do not provide information about the desired location in the United States. Even if the call is made, it will not be useful if you do not use the number of the city where you live. I expect Microsoft to fully support emergency calls when the service is officially launched.
As with other Skype demo features, Microsoft hasn’t said anything publicly about the cost of the PSTN calling feature when it becomes available in the US and other countries.
First you need to go to http://www.skypepreview.com and request permission to preview. After your opt-in request is approved, Microsoft will email you an application link. Sign in to the Office 365 portal, then paste the link into that browser window and you’ll see the following screen:
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After clicking the registration screen, you will receive a receipt by email; Then you have to wait for the tenant to take delivery. Microsoft says it can take up to an hour, but in my tenant testing it took about 10 minutes. After the preparation process is complete, “Skype for Domestic and International Business Calls” will appear in the license view in the Office 365 admin portal. At that point, you’re ready to start preparing tenants and users for calls. During the demonstration, Microsoft will give each participant 100 licenses for PSTN calls. This number cannot be changed now. However, once the feature becomes generally available, there’s a good chance that Microsoft will be happy to sell you as many licenses as you need.
Before users can start calling, you must do two things: Reserve one or more phone numbers, and then assign phone numbers to each user.
To reserve a phone number, open the Skype for Business admin center using the Skype for Business admin center under the Admin category in the Office 365 admin portal, then select the Skype Voice tab.
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Under Phone Number, you’ll see a phone icon labeled New Phone Number. When you click it, you’ll get a simple form with three fields: your state and city you need to back up, and the number of numbers you need. Fill in this data and click “Add” and you will see a summary of the available numbers as follows:
Because each supported city in the example has a limited number of available numbers, some cities listed in Microsoft’s documentation do not have available numbers. For example, when I started writing this article, there were numbers in Miami, Florida and San Jose, California. A week later they were gone. (Obviously, “Indianapolis” appears in the list of states. This is clearly a simple coding error by someone who missed that day of elementary school social studies; I’m sure this will be corrected shortly after this article is published.)
You can deselect individual numbers using the check box next to each one. That’s all the control you have – you can’t ask for a specific number or range at this point, although I think Microsoft might add this as a popular feature in future releases, as it helps businesses now use Direct Dialing with Range (DID). Consecutive numbers to have a range when using Skype.
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In my tests, I was only able to request a maximum of 200 numbers; Requesting more than that (or more than the number available in the target city) will cause you to receive a polite error message: “There are no numbers available for this tenant to reserve.”
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