Skype for Business PSTN calling

By SpiderGroup

11 Jul 2016

For a while now, you’ve been able to get Skype for Business on Office 365 but it’s lacked what’s known as Skype for Business PSTN breakout. This all changed on the 1st July when Microsoft launched the add-on for Office 365.

But first, let me explain what PSTN breakout is. PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network and basically refers to the BT network in the UK. Without this feature on Skype for Business, you could only make calls to other Skype for Business or Skype users. Now, Microsoft has connected Skype for Business in the UK to the PSTN, allowing calls to made to landlines and mobiles too. This extra functionality means you could potentially replace your traditional office phone system with Skype for Business from Office 365.

The good…

Simplicity – In no more than 10 minutes you can have all your Office 356 users’ setup with the appropriate licences, a phone number and a headset. That’s it, you have a fully working phone system with some great features.
Hosted – no need to worry about any servers or complicated installation, just install the Skype for Business software on your PC and sign-in.
Cost – there’s no large upfront cost, just some additional licences paid for monthly.
Number porting – if you have existing phone numbers, these can be ported to Microsoft.

Not so good….

Features – It’s new and lacks some features you’d expect from a phone system like number masking, call park and response groups. Microsoft say more features are coming soon, but there is no official timing.
Concurrent numbers – You can very easily order additional phone numbers for your growing business for any geographical region in the UK, but you can’t have more numbers than licences. So you can’t order a large amount of concurrent numbers for future growth. You order the numbers as you add staff and therefore they will be random, your business won’t have a group of numbers all in the same range.
Bundles – no per minute billing with Microsoft, it’s all about bundles and buying minutes in advance, a bit like your mobile phone plan. We think this may work out a bit more expensive.
Cost – You need an Office 365 enterprise licence, a PSTN licence and a calling bundle. As your business grows, this could get expensive.
Support – If you’re buying direct from Microsoft, their support can be a bit hit or miss.

We think there’s still some work to do before the Office 365 option becomes a viable phone replacement. However, if you’re just starting out or need a temporary system for a project quickly, it could be the answer.

The alternative – Cloud Connector Edition

The Cloud Connector Edition enables you to use Office 365 as you would normally, but you can get the PSTN breakout from a third party or host it yourself. Because you’re outside the Microsoft environment, you get more flexibility. Billing can work in the traditional per minute way and you can get some of the missing features like response groups and number masking. Plus, you can order more numbers up front.

If you want to use Skype for Business as your company’s phone system, then consider Cloud Connector Edition. Whether hosted in-house or by an IT provider, Cloud Connector Edition is the business solution.

SpiderGroup has provided Skype for Business servers to our customers for the last 5 years through our fully hosted platform and we’re a Microsoft Cloud Service Provider. If you’re considering Skype for Business or looking for Office 365 support, please fill in our contact form or give us a call on 0117 933 0570.

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