The Westcoast Cloud Team
February 25, 2022

What’s new with Unified Communications?

The last few months have seen some exciting changes to unified communications. Read on to see what’s new, and find out what’s in store for 2022.

E-Teams Phone Home

Teams Phone went live on the 1st of January 2022 – it’s available for new SMB and Enterprise Voice customers. From 1st March, Business Voice will no longer be available to purchase, and partners will have 2 options:

  • Teams Phone with Calling Plan – including the M365 Phone System and a 1,200-minute Domestic Calling Plan (UK only)
  • Teams Phone Standard – including the M365 Phone System (UK and Ireland)

Customers who purchase Business Voice before the 1st of March will continue with this subscription until their expiration date. Existing Business Voice customers have until the 30th of June to renew their Business Voice licences.

Teams Phone with Calling Plan requires a business to be on a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription that includes Microsoft Teams, able to be added onto the following eligible subscriptions:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Business Standard
  • Business Premium (F1, F3, E3, A3)
  • Office 365 (F1, F3, E1, E3, A1, A3)

Removing the Cons from Audio Conferencing

From the 1st of March, Audio Conferencing will be incorporated as part of the core meetings value with all Teams-inclusive SKUs. Until 31st of May 2022, customers can even add it to a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription for free for up to 12 months.

This new offer includes unlimited toll dial-in minutes and Operator Connect Conferencing. Audio Conferencing select dial-out must be transacted and provisioned for use and will not be automatically backfilled to the eligible suites.

You can find more info on transacting and provisioning the service from Microsoft here.

Essential deals for small businesses

Microsoft are discounting their Teams Essentials offering. From 1st March – 30th June this year, the package will be reduced by 25% in NCE annual terms.

Teams Essentials is the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind. It features unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing, and calendaring. At only £3 per user per month, it’s the most affordable meetings and calling solution in the market today.

Exclusively available through CSP, Teams Essentials uses AAD identity to enable partners to deliver the same Teams experience to customers that they do with other commercial Microsoft 365 subscriptions. This includes key platform capabilities like the ability to add 3rd party Teams integrations and Teams Phone and Calling Plans. You can read more on how to transact promos in NCE here.

Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing – the Ultimate Showdown

In 2021, Microsoft released their new service ‘Operator Connect,’ allowing organisations to enable PSTN services in Teams with participating operators. The aim was to close the gap between Microsoft calling plans and Direct Routing, but how do they compare?

In the Blue Corner… Operator Connect

Operator Connect provides several important benefits that make it a seamless and powerful PSTN deployment option:

  • Leverage existing operator contracts – keep your preferred operator and contracts, while enabling a modern calling experience in Teams
  • Quickly deploy calling in Teams – create a connection to your operator and assign phone numbers to users, all from the Teams admin centre, in a matter of minutes
  • Reduce costs of hardware and management – PSTN calling services and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) are managed by operators, saving on hardware purchase and management
  • Benefit from enhanced support and reliability – operators provide technical support and shared service level agreements, while Azure-powered direct peering creates a 1:1 network connection for greater reliability

In the Red Corner… Direct Routing

Direct Routing options offer greater flexibility, allowing you to scale up and down depending on your business requirements.

For Microsoft Teams, Direct Routing allows you to have a true Unified Communications platform, able to manage your calls like a traditional PBX whilst meeting the needs of a new hybrid work environment.

Operator Connect is limited to the chosen providers on the programme and may not meet the requirements for complex business models, such as call-centres, call recording for compliance and limited coverage.

There is no ‘one solution fits all’

What UC solution you choose will be down to your personal preference and needs. At Westcoast Cloud, we’re pros at finding the solutions that work for you and your business requirements. To learn more about Microsoft Voice and Direct Routing, or any of our other solutions, speak to our Product experts at