Operator Connect – are you missing out?

– Written by Helen Johnstone

Operator Connect was hailed as a valuable third option for end-users to bring voice into Microsoft Teams when it was announced last year. It provides the customer greater control over their calling, but what does Operator Connect mean for the carrier industry?

How Operator Connect is disrupting the market

Operator Connect allows businesses to directly enable PSTN calling from their existing carriers in Teams. Unlocking services from non-Microsoft telephony operators within the Teams interface.

Operator Connect sits alongside Direct Routing but is more tightly controlled by Microsoft in terms of features and infrastructure. With Operator Connect showing up in the Teams Admin center, customers can select from an approved list of operators to support Microsoft Teams calling, with a streamlined purchasing and provisioning experience.

Operator Connect means customers don’t necessarily need a partner to support them with the purchasing process. This brings greater competition at the operator level, as customers can purchase from multiple vendors. Direct Routing is here to stay though, as any level of customization ‘in the call path’ or value-add (such as Call Center integrations) sits firmly outside of Operator Connect – for now.

The challenges of Operator Connect for the carrier industry

Operator Connect’s impact on carriers is less clear – particularly for those that have not yet been authorized to deliver the service by Microsoft. Operator Connect sent shockwaves through the carrier industry, taking many carriers by surprise.

“Many carriers hadn’t even done the business case for it but were suddenly seeing the logos of their competitors in the initial release and saw it as a big problem that they weren’t there.” Explains Mark Herbert, President of Qunifi

With Microsoft driving the agenda, this has all come from nowhere for some carriers.

If you are a carrier looking to join Operator Connect, then there are specific technical and contractual requirements that need to be met. Many carriers find themselves having to get to grips with the Microsoft world, particularly those, that have not worked closely with Microsoft in the past.

The challenge of speed also exists. With competition requiring carriers to work at a quicker pace than a lot of them are used to working at. To qualify for Operator Connect, carriers are having to make changes to their systems in a matter of months that would have historically taken years.

This is also intensified by Microsoft’s tight controls for Operator Connect.

“Operator Connect is designed to give end-users some of the flexibility of Direct Routing – such as bring your own carrier – but in a simpler package.  So, Microsoft has set some tight constraints around how operators have to connect into Teams; it has to be highly automated with a good ‘quality-of-service’.” Further explains Mark Herbert.

How to maximize the Operator Connect opportunity

Microsoft Teams is seeing unprecedented growth, presenting a valuable opportunity for those looking to integrate voice services. For carriers looking to engage with Microsoft and Operator Connect there are two ways to approach the challenge.

Carriers can initiate the conversation with Microsoft and begin work on the requirements to become Operator Connect approved. Then whilst this process is in play carriers can consider direct-routing-as-a-service (DRaaS). This offers the same end-user experience as Operator Connect – except for a listing in the Operator Connect portal. And this solution can be up and running quickly, whilst Microsoft approval for Operator Connect listing is in progress.

The Carrier Automate service provided by Qunifi primarily focuses on two challenges around Operator Connect: knowledge and speed. The experts at Qunifi, draw on their years of experience of working with Microsoft and delivering their world-leading DRaaS solution, Call2Teams.

This means we have the expertise to support carriers on Operator Connect, educating them on the Microsoft world in general. Carrier Automate provides a combined suite of tools, services, and software that can be used to create a bridge between a carrier’s core network and Microsoft’s own network – which is essential in order to become Operator Connect compliant.

Services from Qunifi are then wrapped around the technology to handle the deployment and ongoing maintenance of the offering.

Qunifi can also support carriers to deliver direct-routing-as-a-service. Allowing carriers to get up and running quickly, whilst the authorization and onboarding process for Operator Connect is still in play. Meaning carriers can take advantage of the Teams opportunity more immanently.

The added advantage of this dual approach is that where Operator Connect has clearly defined scope for complexity and customization, Direct Routing allows for the carrier to add value to the call path.

“I don’t expect Operator Connect to completely replace Direct Routing going forward – rather, businesses will choose options that suit them best, even if that means having a blend of the two. At Carrier Automate we give Service Providers the best of both worlds because we can help them deliver both, rather than requiring multiple integrations.” Mark Herbert, President of Qunifi

About Dstny Automate

Dstny Automate. formerly Qunifi is known most in the market for its Call2Teams offering, which gives service providers and channel partners a relatively easy way to integrate voice services into their Microsoft Teams offering.

The new Carrier Automate solution is built on the same technology. It bundles technology and services designed to help carriers accelerate their journey towards Operator Connect.

Contact us to learn how to make the most of Operator Connect.

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