Microsoft Communications Overview

Microsoft Communications Overview

Ataira Business Intelligence Ataira - Updated Jan 16, 2023

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Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork in Microsoft 365. The Teams service enables instant messaging, audio and video calling, rich online meetings, mobile experiences, and extensive web conferencing capabilities. In addition, Teams provides file and data collaboration and extensibility features, and integrates with Microsoft 365 and other Microsoft and partner apps. Here are the most popular options:

  • Microsoft Audio Conferencing
  • Microsoft Business Voice
  • Microsoft Phone System
  • Microsoft Calling Plans
  • Microsoft Common Area Phone

Microsoft Teams Audio Conferencing

Calling in (dialing in) to meetings is very useful for users who are on the road and can’t attend a meeting using the Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams app on their laptops or mobile devices. But there are other scenarios in which using a phone to attend a Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams meeting can be a better option than using an app on a computer:

  • Internet connectivity is limited.
  • A meeting is audio only.
  • The person tried to join a Skype for Business meeting and it failed.
  • The call quality is better when dialing in.
  • People can join a meeting “hands free” using Bluetooth devices.
  • People find it’s easier and more convenient for their situation.

You only need to set up Audio Conferencing for people who plan to schedule or lead meetings. Meeting attendees who dial in don’t need any licenses assigned to them or other setup.

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Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft 365 Business Voice makes it easy for small and medium organizations to turn Microsoft Teams into a powerful and flexible telephone system. It’s a replacement for traditional telephony providers and in-house phone systems that can be difficult and costly to manage. You can set up both toll and toll-free numbers, call menus to help callers get to the right department, audio conferencing so you can host meetings with anyone, and more. You can even give people their own phone numbers so they can get calls directly.

Business Voice does all of this by wrapping Microsoft 365 Phone System features into an easy-to-manage bundle. You don’t need to worry about choosing the right plan or feature; they’re all there and set up for you. Because Phone System is a part of Teams, you can turn any PC, Mac, or mobile device into a phone that can use your Business Voice phone number.

Business Voice is right for you if your organization has 300 or fewer people and you have one the following Microsoft 365 subscriptions:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Microsoft 365 F1
  • Microsoft 365 F3
  • Office 365 F3
  • Microsoft and Office 365 Enterprise E1 or E3
  • Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Education A1 or A3
  • Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Government G1 or G3
  • Microsoft 365 Nonprofit Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Nonprofit Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Nonprofit E1 or E3

Business Voice is available in over 70 countries and regions. Whether you can set up Business Voice on your own, transfer phone numbers to Microsoft 365, and manage your phone numbers in Microsoft 365, depends on the country or region in which your Microsoft 365 tenant is located.

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Microsoft Phone System

A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is a phone system within a business. Phone System gives you PBX capabilities, but without the complicated and expensive equipment.

Phone System allows you to replace your existing on-premises PBX system with a set of features delivered from Microsoft 365 or Office 365 that is tightly integrated into your cloud experience. For more information about the features, see Here’s what you get with Phone System.

Phone System enables call control and PBX capabilities in the cloud with Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Online.

With Phone System, users can use Teams or Skype for Business Online to place and receive calls, transfer calls, and mute or unmute calls. Phone System users can click a name in their address book, and place Teams or Skype for Business Online calls to that person. To place and receive calls, Phone System users can use their mobile devices, a headset with a laptop or PC, or one of many IP phones that work with Teams and Skype for Business Online. Phone System administrators can manage calling options and settings from the same console used for messaging, collaboration, and so on.

Calls between users in your organization are handled internally within Phone System, and never go to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). This applies to calls between users in your organization located in different geographical areas, removing long-distance costs on these internal calls.

For calls outside your organization, Microsoft provides multiple options for connecting Phone System to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

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Calling Plans for Microsoft 365

Calls to other Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams users are free, but if you want your users to be able to call regular phones, and you don’t already have a service provider to make voice calls, you need to buy a Calling Plan. For more information, see Phone System and Calling Plans.

Here are the Calling Plans options:

  • Domestic Calling Plan: Licensed users can call out to numbers located in the country/region where they are assigned in Microsoft 365 or Office 365.
  • Domestic and International Calling Plan: Licensed users can call out to numbers located in the country/region where their Microsoft 365 or Office 365 license is assigned to the user based on the user’s location, and to international numbers in 196 countries/regions.

All users in the same country/region (this is the user country location defined in the licensing area of the Microsoft 365 admin center) with the same Calling Plan share a pool of minutes. For example, if you have 100 users located in the same country/region with a 120 minutes Domestic Calling Plan assigned, they share a pool of 12,000 minutes. All calls exceeding these minutes are billed per minute.

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Buy Microsoft 365 Domestic and Int Calling Plan Monthly Subscriptions – Ataira

Common Area Phone for Microsoft Teams

A common area phone is typically placed in an area like a lobby or another area that is available to many people to make a call; for example, a reception area, lobby, or conference phone. Common area phones are signed in with accounts tied to a Common Area Phone license. The TeamsIPPhone policy must also be appropriately set for the phone to have a common area user experience.

For a more complete meeting room experience, including audio conferencing, consider purchasing the dedicated Meeting Room license with a meeting room device. For Common Area Phone (CAP) licensing make sure that you have a certified phone. To search for and learn more about certified phones, search for Microsoft Teams devices.

The Common Area Phone license supports:

  • Common Area Phone
  • Skype for Business
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Phone System
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Microsoft Intune
  • Worldwide Availability
  • Channel Availability EA, EAS, CSP, GCC, EES, Web Direct


  • Common Area Phones can join audio conferences via dial-in number provided by the meeting organizer
  • Common area phones do not support voicemail.
  • If you are using Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing, you do not need a Calling Plan license.
  • No need to add a Phone System license, this is included with the Common Area Phone license.

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