Man dialing the keys on a phone

Office 365: New Options for Cloud Voice & Conferencing Solutions

2 Feb 2017 by Teresa Meek

Traditionally, businesses have used a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) for internal phone calls and a Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) for outside calls. These technologies have been around for decades as reliable means of communication.

Building on the evolution of IT, Microsoft has created new ways of using these technologies that eliminate maintenance and reduce costs while providing the highest voice quality possible. Office 365 Enterprise E5 comes with flexible conferencing solutions that can include people across the globe, even if they can’t use toll-free numbers or don’t have an internet connection.

Cloud phone systems transform PBX.

Why house your office PBX system in a private data center when you can move it to the cloud and remove the hassles of running it? Cloud phone systems free the IT department from maintenance chores, giving staff more time to focus on improving operations. These systems also save your business money since you no longer need to buy or service equipment. Updates are automatically pushed to the system from the cloud.

Microsoft’s cloud voice PBX system is included with an Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription. If you have an earlier version of Office 365, you can get Cloud PBX as an add-on for a few dollars a month.

Cloud PBX includes typical private exchange features, such as call waiting, call forwarding, call history and caller ID. It also integrates with Skype for Business, allowing you to make and receive calls in the office or remotely through a phone, computer or mobile device.

You can call one person or an entire team. If you’re on the go, you can switch a call to a different device with a couple of clicks. With video calls, you not only hear who’s speaking, but you see the speaker’s words stream by in a small window, letting you multitask or review information as the call progresses.

One of the main reasons businesses like the cloud is that it lets them easily scale, and that’s just as true for cloud voice phone systems as it is for cloud-based apps. As your business grows, you can add new users or offices without integrating networks or purchasing equipment.

The clarity of PSTN calling

With Office 365 Enterprise E5, you can get PSTN calling as an add-on to Cloud PBX, enabling you to make domestic and international calls directly from Office 365. Contracts with a phone company are made through Microsoft.

PSTN, sometimes referred to as “plain old telephone service,” is the worldwide aggregation of circuit-switching telephone networks, now mostly digital, that got started back in the days of Alexander Graham Bell. It may be old, but PSTN is an established technology that provides higher call quality than Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), according to TechTarget.

That’s because with PSTN, voice calls go directly through the telephone network. With VoIP, voice information is broken up into chunks called data packets. Sometimes not all of the data chunks make it to the receiving end of a call, resulting in gaps or cutoff words. Apart from fiber-optic technology, PSTN provides the clearest, most reliable connection possible.

New conferencing solutions with PSTN

In the Enterprise E5 version of Office 365, meeting attendees can not only join or create a Skype call, but they can include people who don’t normally use Skype for Business, people whose companies block international calls or even people who don’t have access to an internet connection.

This feature is handy for salespeople and consultants who spend a lot of time on the road. With intermittent internet service, they often struggle to connect with colleagues in real time. Now, anyone who has a dial-in number and a conference ID can join a Skype for Business meeting. For example, an engineer on a site visit where there’s no internet access can chat with the tech support office in Mumbai, whose office blocks international calls.

Microsoft PSTN conferencing solutions are available in 196 countries, according to Microsoft, and calls can include up to 250 participants.

With cloud phone systems that bring clarity and simplicity to the private branch exchange, and conferencing solutions that allow almost anyone to participate, your business can do more than ever with its phone system and spend less doing it.

Connect from anywhere.

Conferencing solutions on Office 365, available from Insight, allow you to call almost anyone.

Learn more