Calling in Microsoft Teams – FAQs

– Written by Helen Johnstone

For organizations and businesses looking to use Microsoft Teams as their phone system what are the options for calling in Teams?

7 common questions asked when wanting to use Teams as a business phone system

How do I activate a dialpad in Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is free, and included with every Microsoft 365 License. Yet to use Teams for calling to external numbers, via a PSTN breakout, further licensing is needed.

It is this further licensing that activates the dialpad.

With Microsoft 365 Business there are three licenses offered as a bundle, called Microsoft Business Voice, this provides an add-on license for Microsoft Teams Phone, Audio Conferencing, and a calling plan.

For Microsoft 365 Enterprise E1 or E3, then a Teams Phone license needs to be purchased separately. For Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5 they are included. Once you have a Teams Phone license you will need to consider purchasing a calling plan from Microsoft for you lines and minutes or speak with your existing provider, to see how you can bring calling to Microsoft Teams with your existing business telephone system.  Bringing your existing business phone system can be less disruptive.

There are a number of options for connecting your existing telephone service to  get calling in Microsoft Teams.

What are the options for calling in Microsoft Teams?

For organizations looking to route calls to and from Microsoft Teams, there are a number of options to choose from. Enterprises can look to move completely over to Microsoft and purchase Calling Plans for calling in Teams. Alternatively, they can use Direct Routing, using a Session Border Controller (SBC) to connect existing phone lines, numbers, and minutes to Microsoft Teams. And now, with Microsoft Operator Connect organizations can purchase lines and minutes direct from Carriers within the Teams admin interface.

There are three primary options for native Microsoft Teams calling:

  • Make Microsoft your phone company – purchase Teams Phone calling plans and minutes from Microsoft.
  • Bring your existing phone lines to Teams through Direct Routing or SBC configuration, typically working with a third-party provider to build this.
  • Use Operator Connect, where effectively the pre-engineering for Direct Routing has been done.

The above all provide a native Teams dial pad within the Teams interface, meaning that outbound, inbound, and call controls are within the Teams environment.

Provided by some operators, is a Teams ‘widget’ which allows customers to make and receive calls via a softphone that remote-controls Teams. This is sometimes referred to as a cross-launch. The call, when placed does not remain in Teams and is operated by separately launched software, which typically needs to be installed and maintained on each device the customer is using.

This route does not activate a dialpad in Microsoft Teams and calling is not native to Microsoft Teams.

Read more Options for calling in Microsoft Teams

What license do I need in Microsoft Teams for phone calls?

Businesses have two options when it comes to Microsoft 365 licensing: Business and Enterprise. With Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise companies can make calls internally, collaborate with video calls, messaging, and file sharing. What they cannot do is make and receive calls externally. To use Microsoft Teams as a business phone system additional licensing is needed.

For Microsoft 365 Business Microsoft provides three licenses as a bundle, called Microsoft Business Voice, this provides an add-on license for Microsoft Teams Phone, Audio Conferencing, and a calling plan. (If you are to use Direct Routing you will need to request this add-on but without the calling plan). For Microsoft 365 Enterprise E1 or E3, a Teams Phone license needs to be purchased separately, as well as conferencing. For Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5 the Teams Phone license and conferencing is already included.

When using Direct Routing to plug your existing phone service to Microsoft Teams you will also need a Teams Phone License. But you will not need to purchase a Microsoft calling plan when utilizing the Direct Routing feature. As your phone service provider will be delivering the minutes and numbers needed.

Those with Microsoft 365 Enterprise licensing with level E1 or E3 will need to purchase a Teams Phone license. Those that hold E5 already have Teams Phone licensing included. For Microsoft Business 365 it is possible to contact Microsoft to purchase Microsoft Business Voice without a call plan.

Read more What Microsoft licensing is required to get calling in Teams?

How do I avoid porting numbers in Microsoft Teams?

Number portability is a regulated process that allows customers to keep their numbers when changing providers. If you were to port your numbers to Teams then Microsoft would become your service provider and will bill you for those phone numbers. You would need a calling plan with Microsoft, as well as the correct Teams phone licensing.

If you want to avoid this and wish to retain your existing telephone operator, then it is possible to connect your existing voice service using Teams Direct Routing or by selecting your chosen operator in the admin area using  Microsoft Teams Operator Connect.

It seems simpler to just use Microsoft as my phone provider, why would I not?

Typically, the reason for not using Microsoft as your phone provider is that you want it to do something that Microsoft can’t technically deliver. Microsoft Teams is first and foremost a collaboration tool. Their phone system, in comparison to a PBX, is somewhat rudimentary. So, if you are doing anything more interesting with phone and voice services, such as call centers, or even  just call routing, queuing and call reporting – functions that for many businesses are critical for how they operate, then Microsoft probably can’t deliver the phone system you need.

Additionally, you need to bear in mind that Teams Calling plans, when scaled, may not be as cost-effective as the negotiated prices and tailored set-up you have with your existing provider. Also what happens when you need support? Support via Microsoft could be challenging, as support is generic, not voice specific. Finally you will need consider the geographies your calling needs to cover, as Teams Phone is not available in some geographies.

When is Teams Phone right?

When is Teams Phone not right?


  • You are a small to medium organization
  • Your staffing numbers are stable
  • You don’t need multiple geographies
  • You mainly use the phone for internal calls
  • Your organization does not use the phone a lot for external calling


  • You are a medium to large organization
  • Your growing
  • You have multiple geographies
  • You have diverse or complex telephony i.e. call-centre, office, and remote staff
  • You have a high volume of external calls

What are the pros and cons of Direct Routing?

Although Direct Routing, when in place, can be more cost-effective than Microsoft Calling Plans, building SBC connections to Microsoft Teams requires significant levels of expertise. And it can be prohibitively expensive, not to mention disruptive. They also need to be maintained. An alternative approach is to consider Direct-Routing-as-a-Service (DRaaS). Being cloud-based this is less disruptive and can be deployed relatively quickly. And often comes with technical support. Although it is important to choose a provider that is compatible and has the interoperability you are looking for.

Read more The pros and cons of Microsoft Teams direct routing



  • A solution that is maintained for you.
  • You do not own the solution, so tailored options and fixes are by request.
  • A cost-effective solution with no CAPEX.
  • It is important to choose a provider that has the scalability you are looking for.
  • Using the cloud to deliver Direct Routing minimizes disruption.
  • It is important to choose a provider that is compatible and has the interoperability you are looking for.
DraaS does come with many advantages. You can hold on to negotiated pricing and contract terms, whilst tailoring your phone solution to your needs, and still gain the advantages of collaborative working in Microsoft Teams. This is played out in market statistics. Currently only 13% of enterprises are using Teams Phone Calling Plans to connect Microsoft Teams to PSTN. Whereas 87% of enterprises are using Direct Routing.

Is it possible to integrate my existing telephone system with Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing enables you to make and receive phone calls to or from landlines and mobiles via the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The connection is made using a Session Border Controller (SBC) and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunks. It is this process that makes it possible to integrate external telephone systems with Microsoft Teams and allows for calls initiated within Microsoft Teams to be routed externally to the PSTN.

When using Direct Routing there is no need to change provider, port numbers or rip and replace what you already have. This hybrid approach allows you to still optimize your existing set up whilst making the most of collaborative working in Microsoft Teams. And if you opt for Direct Routing as a Service then this can be delivered on a rolling contract, with upgrades and maintenance provided, with no need to install any on-premise equipment.

The Call2Teams DRaaS solution is PBX agnostic and for business users is delivered via a global network of partners, see our Find a partner page for more info. We are a cost-effective solution, that compliments an existing phone system and delivers native Teams calling. As an add-on to Office 365, Call2Teams can be easily set up and configured in minutes by any Office 365 admin. It allows organizations to retain their existing PBX phone system and fully integrate it quickly and easily into Teams.



Posted on Under