Integrating Business Phones With Microsoft Teams: Verizon’s Options

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

The use of Microsoft Teams has exploded, but calling is a weak spot. Verizon provides multiple options for businesses of all sizes.

Adoption of Microsoft Teams for collaboration exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to surge as hybrid work models have become the norm. According to Microsoft, Teams reached 270 million users in 2022, up from 145 million in 2021. More than one million organizations use Microsoft Teams as their default messaging platform. Microsoft also reports that 91 of the Fortune 100 are currently using Teams.

However, Teams customers continue to report on the difficulty of integrating business phones with the solution. As a result, employees still work in two separate worlds, leading to a subpar communications and collaboration experience and gaps in the flow of information. Since Microsoft has not offered an effective solution for bridging the divide, companies must turn to a third-party vendor.

Verizon currently has three solutions for integrating business phones into Microsoft Teams, and they are generating tremendous interest among customers. Powered by the Verizon 5G LTE network, the three solutions are:

  • Verizon Mobile for Microsoft Teams.
  • Verizon Calling with Microsoft Teams based on direct routing.
  • Verizon Voice for Microsoft Teams based on operator connect.

Verizon Mobile for Microsoft Teams

Verizon launched Verizon Mobile for Microsoft Teams in January 2023, becoming the first U.S. operator to enable easy integration of mobile business devices into Teams. The solution creates a more unified business communications experience by enabling wireless subscribers to use their mobile device’s native dialer to make and receive calls as a Teams endpoint.

Without the support for the native dialer, users would need to flip between an app for business calls and a dialer for personal use. Most people gravitate to the choice of least resistance, which is the native dialer on a mobile phone. When this happens, the business loses any kind of corporate control.

This approach is ideal for hybrid work, as it provides easy access to Teams capabilities—inbound and outbound—via a single, business-provided phone number for both mobile and desktop devices.

Users can move between their mobile device and other Teams endpoints, such as mobile apps, desktop apps, and desk phones, during a call. They can also convert a call into a full Teams meeting by shifting the call into the Teams app, so they can add additional parties to the meeting, share their screen, and more.

It’s important to note that Verizon Mobile for Microsoft Teams improves the quality of Teams-based calls because they are routed over the Verizon LTE network, not the internet, and calls are prioritized over data.

For regulated industries, the solution offers the ability to enforce secure and compliant business policies on employee communications, including compliance-based call recording from the native dialer, once the enterprise has integrated a third-party compliance solution with Teams.

Verizon Calling With Microsoft Teams: Direct Routing

Verizon Calling with Microsoft Teams has been available since April 2021, but new capabilities make it even more appealing to multinational companies.

Verizon Calling with Microsoft Teams enables enterprises to extend Teams collaboration beyond the business network, enabling more productive and collaborative communications among employees, partners, and customers across regions. Targeted at large multinational organizations, the solution bundles cloud-based software and services to extend secure SIP connectivity by providing direct routing in over 100 countries in APAC, EMEA, and the Americas.

The biggest enhancement is a self-administration portal, based on Kurmi, which allows companies to automate provisioning tasks and includes user profile templates for role-based access, easier number management, and scheduling and grouping. The solution also includes security logs for tracking and rollbacks, and reduces the need for PowerShell scripts.

Another key enhancement large enterprises will appreciate is a new optional reporting and analytics portal that provides end-to-end, real-time visibility and service health monitoring to reduce mean time-to-resolution.

Verizon VoIP for Operator Connect

Verizon VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) for Operator Connect offers a simpler solution to make phone calls outside of an organization using Teams. Targeted at companies that don’t require complex integrations with legacy voice systems, call centers, or other voice applications, the solution connects Teams to Verizon VoIP (Verizon’s IP trunking solution) to provide enterprise-class calling—but with simpler and quicker deployment and administration compared to Verizon Calling with Microsoft Teams.

With Verizon VoIP for Operator Connect, customers of Microsoft Teams Phone System gain a simple way to let in-house administrators manage the system and order and manage public switched telephone network (PSTN) connectivity through the Microsoft Teams Admin Center interface.

The solution can also help organizations simplify moving as much of their phone system as possible to the cloud. Verizon VoIP for Operator Connect offers enterprise-class security and reliability, including 24/7/365 technical support and a 100% network availability service-level agreement (SLA).

The service is currently available in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with plans in 2023 to add Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Puerto Rico as well as 20 countries in Europe. Verizon also plans a managed-service version of the solution to make it even easier to roll out; timing for this new solution has not been announced.

Mix and Match Verizon Solutions with Microsoft Teams

In a hybrid work environment, a unified communications and collaboration experience is essential, which is why Microsoft Teams has seen such strong interest. Calling, though, remains problematic for Teams, making the combination of Teams and Verizon a good option for companies.

Verizon has multiple offers to meet the needs of different companies, as not all organizations use Teams the same way. In fact, some companies combine multiple Verizon solutions with Teams.

For example, a large multinational organization might use Verizon VoIP for Operator Connect to get U.S.-based office workers set up quickly and manage the solution themselves. But then they opt for Verizon Calling with Microsoft Teams to support the more complex needs of contact center staff and staff located in areas where Verizon VoIP is not available. Then, to support road warriors, the company might implement Verizon Mobile for Microsoft Teams.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.