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New Microsoft Teams Phone features give calling a modern makeover

The rise of virtual meetings brought video-based collaboration to the forefront, and as hybrid work becomes our new norm many of us expect the same type of makeover to phone calls. One-to-one calls are a critical way to get work done—in fact, nearly 80 million users in over 180 countries rely on Microsoft Teams Phone to make calls richer and more collaborative.

Behind these calls are two technologies, both of which are available with Teams Phone: public switched telephone network (PSTN) which has enabled voice calling since the late 1800s, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which routes calls over an Internet connection, enabling rich calling experiences such as video and screen sharing. While PSTN calling use is still widespread, VoIP calling is rapidly growing in relevance and adoption. In fact, United Kingdom-based operator BT has recently announced that in 2025 it will retire the PSTN network1 in the UK and route all calls over IP. 

This trend creates a decision point for calling solution vendors—invest in coding the hundreds of niche telephony features or prioritize the most critical PSTN needs while developing modern calling experiences. The path for Teams Phone is clearly the latter, and there are several important trends that influence how we prioritize our innovation:

  • Collaboration experiences are the new standard for calling solutions: Rather than a siloed calling experience, users expect to place and receive their calls in the same tool they use to chat and host video meetings. We see this firsthand, as Teams Phone calls originating from chats are occurring 50 percent more frequently than this time last year.
  • Calls between organizations will increasingly occur over VoIP: Teams Phone enables federation between organizations, allowing their workforces to securely connect using VoIP-based voice or video calling, screen sharing, and chat.
  • An increasingly mobile workforce needs flexible calling solutions: Hybrid workers need reliable and mobile calling solutions. These users are discovering that they can remain productive across a range of devices, including their PCs and mobile phones, and often use several different devices throughout their day.

Today, we are announcing several new Teams Phone capabilities to build towards that vision for the future of calling.

Incorporate calling into the flow of work

Desktop with Teams UI, headset keyboard, mouse, and speaker puck.

Calling should enhance collaboration, rather than be a siloed experience. In addition to unique Teams Phone capabilities like voice-enabled channels, which allow users to add calling to the Teams channels where they already chat, store documents, and collaborate, we are launching several features to build calling into the flow of work.

  • Seamlessly transfer calls between devices: Sometimes you need to move a call from your desk to a mobile device or vice versa. Teams Phone now offers the ability to transfer between different endpoints without interrupting the call. Simply open the Microsoft Teams app on the device you’d like to transfer the call to, and tap to move the call. 
  • Spam call identification: Spam calls interrupt the flow of work and can make users less likely to answer a call. Now generally available, the spam identification feature uses advanced industry techniques to identify likely spam calls, allowing users to let the good calls through and decline the rest. Additionally, Teams digitally attests outgoing calls to prevent these calls from being rejected by external recipients.
  • Apple CarPlay support: The rise of hybrid work means that many more of us will be back in our cars commuting again. With Apple CarPlay support for Teams now generally available, you can join calls and meetings using your vehicle’s built-in controls or hands-free using Siri.
  • One-to-one call transcription and recording: Whether you’re on the go or just don’t have a notepad handy, sometimes it can be efficient to record a call. Teams Phone will permit users to record and capture transcription of one-to-one calls by the end of 2021.

Connect existing telephony with Microsoft Teams

Teams app view showing Calls tab with dial pad, call history, and voicemail.

While VoIP is the future of calling, the ability to make and receive PSTN calls remains critical to many organizations, and Teams Phone provides organizations with the promise of reliable dial service. We’re excited to announce the availability and expansion of several Teams Phone capabilities to bridge existing PSTN calling with the future.

  • Operator Connect: Generally available this week, Operator Connect enables customers to simply connect their operator-based PSTN service into Microsoft Teams with a managed experience. This saves on infrastructure costs, setup, and management time, and provides customers with shared technical support and service-level agreements (SLAs).
  • Microsoft Teams Calling Plans expansion: Microsoft Teams Calling Plans offer a simple way to deploy calling in Teams without on-premises equipment. We are adding five new calling plan markets—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Croatia—bringing our total coverage to 33 markets.
  • Bring your own contact center: Selecting, deploying, and training agents on a new contact center solution can take significant time and resources. Fortunately, Teams Phone integrates with your existing contact center solution, and the connected contact center program provides a new level of validation from rigorous third-party testing to ensure seamless and reliable integration. There are now 8 certified contact center solutions, including NICE InContact, Genesys, and Five9, with an additional 12 in the process of certifying.

Create natural calling experiences using purpose-built devices

Teams certified device on white desk.
  • “Better together” experience: The new “better together” experience means that Teams devices now complement each other, allowing users to answer a call, mute or unmute, and end the call on either the device or the Teams client.
  • Walkie-talkie for desk phones: Launching in October 2021, a new walkie-talkie experience will be available on desk phones, allowing colleagues to quickly connect with a push-to-talk function.

Continuing to build for the future and serve customers

The above are just a few examples of our ongoing commitment to support spontaneous collaboration and help organizations prepare for the future of calling. We are also pleased to be recognized as a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service.

Organizations across the globe rely on Teams for their communications and collaboration solution. Luxury group Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) views Teams Phone as an integral part of the company’s workplace modernization strategy, replacing legacy telephone infrastructure with a highly scalable cloud that brings calling, chat, and collaboration together to allow everyone to stay in the flow of their work.

“Teams’ numerous features bring together what we see as the essential linchpins of communication: sharing and storing documents, collaborating through messaging, video, telephony with Teams Phone, and more. This solution has become the vector for communications among our operations teams, our IT teams, and within our business lines.”—Frank Le Moal, Chief Information Officer, LVMH.

Learn more about using Microsoft Teams Phone

Learn more about how LVMH, TransCore, Cambia Health, and ZF Group are using Teams Phone to stay connected.

To explore how Teams Phone can modernize calling for your organization, check out the links below for guidance and resources:

1 The UK’s PSTN network will switch off in 2025, BT. 2021.

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