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What Is the Difference Between Direct Routing and Operator Connect?

What Is the Difference Between Direct Routing and Operator Connect?

During the course of my work, I meet a lot of customers who want to connect their Microsoft Teams deployment to the PSTN to enjoy the most productive Teams calling and meeting experience possible.

Yet many of them also tell me that two of the most popular connectivity options, Direct Routing and Operator Connect, seem very similar at first glance because they both enable the retention of existing voice providers.

But is this really true? Let’s find out!

What Is Direct Routing?

Microsoft’s Direct Routing connects Microsoft Teams customers to local PSTN or SIP trunk providers via certified session border controllers (SBCs). This allows customers to adopt a bring-your-own-carrier (BYOC) approach, with full voice infrastructure flexibility, and also facilitates integration with existing voice systems like PBXs, unified communications (UC) or contact centers.

With Direct Routing, connecting your existing infrastructure to the PSTN and Microsoft Teams is straightforward, allowing you to keep control of the costs as well as the required security policies. You also get the flexibility to keep your existing carrier contracts and their SLA terms.

What Is Operator Connect?

Operator Connect lets you choose which operator you would like to work with through the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, where a list of qualified operators is displayed. You then select your preferred operator and connect to their calling services. Once you have made your selection, the operator of your choice will contact you and connect you to the service.

To get started with Operator Connect, you don’t need to be a telecommunications expert. The underlying SBC infrastructure is managed by the operators themselves, so you don’t need to splash out on installation, configuration and management. The operators also provide technical support and shared SLAs for peace of mind.

Nonetheless, terms and conditions and prices may differ significantly between operators, and integration with your existing UC or contact center IP-PBX systems remains an open issue that you’ll need to deal with.

Which Strategy Should You Choose?

So which option is the best one? As with many things in life, the answer is – it depends.

For simple, single point Teams connectivity to the PSTN, Operator Connect is probably the optimal solution. This is also true for small businesses that do not have complex networks. However, if an organization’s voice network is more complex or has specific integration needs, Direct Routing is a better choice.

So, to summarize:

  • If your organization has many sites spread over a variety of geographic regions, or you require integration with existing network elements, PBXs, UC deployments or contact centers, Direct Routing is probably the optimal solution.
  • If your organization is looking for straightforward connectivity with certified quality of service directly from the Microsoft Cloud, Operator Connect is probably the right way to go.

And that’s exactly where AudioCodes comes into the picture.

Getting on the Microsoft Teams Fast Lane

AudioCodes experts can work with you to identify your needs and help you find the simplest migration path according to your specific organizational requirements. AudioCodes can also provide you with a complete solution as a service with AudioCodes Live for Microsoft Teams, a portfolio of subscription-based services that not only provides seamless PSTN connectivity but also cover daily operations, analytics and reporting. It can also be delivered in conjunction with your existing Office 365 partner.

For services providers who are interested in delivering Operator Connect and/or Direct Routing as a service, we’ve got the perfect solution that also includes the unique tools you’ll need to operate it – it’s called AudioCodes Live Cloud.

When it comes to making the most of Microsoft Teams voice calling, it’s fair to say that AudioCodes – with almost three decades of field-proven voice experience – has you covered. So why not start your migration to Teams Phone System with us today and boost your productivity into a whole new league?


Not sure which PSTN connectivity method is right for you?


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