Microsoft Enabling Mobile Phone Identities with Teams in Coming Operator Connect Mobile Service
Microsoft last week introduced Operator Connect Mobile, a new capability to come that promises to make Teams calls and mobile phone connections more seamless.
Microsoft is planning to release a preview of Operator Connect Mobile sometime "next quarter." It's planning a "general availability" commercial release of the service "beginning in the second half of 2022."
When it gets commercially released, Operator Connect Mobile will require having a "Teams Phone standard/E5 [license] and the OCM add-on SKU," Microsoft explained, in the announcement's comments section.
SIMs for Teams Calls
The idea behind Operator Connect Mobile is that the Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) used with mobile phones will be enabled for calls across other devices, such as desk phones, laptops, tablets or any device that enables the Microsoft Teams collaboration service. Operator Connect Mobile offers a so-called "device agnostic" approach that allows users to switch a voice phone call over to a Teams session without much effort, which Microsoft calls an "uplift."
Organizations can assign just one SIM-enabled mobile phone number for their employees under the Operator Connect Mobile scheme. Employees will get access to their call histories, voice mail and presence capabilities across Microsoft Teams and mobile devices. Their Teams contacts will get populated into their mobile phones.
IT pros can set Teams security policies for mobile devices using Operator Mobile Connect. Organizations also get capabilities such as call recording and retention capabilities for mobile voice calls with the service.
Operator Mobile Connect was described as the "first fixed mobile convergence productivity solution for business" by Mahendra Sekaran, vice president of program management for Microsoft Teams, in a Microsoft Mechanics video:
Leveraging the reliable connectivity fabric between our telco partners and the Microsoft cloud, we are now able to deliver the first fixed mobile convergence productivity solution for business. That means instead of two business numbers for your landline and mobile phone, you can optimize for just one SIM-enabled mobile number and calls are routed simultaneously to your mobile phone, desk phone or PC.
The Microsoft Mechanics video demonstrated a Teams call ringing on both a mobile phone and in Microsoft Teams simultaneously, which was done without installing a Teams app on the mobile device, it was said. Users can answer the call either way. They can also switch the call across devices, or add call participants.
Azure for Operators
Microsoft described Operator Connect Mobile as using its Azure for Operators services to connect a mobile operator's network to the "Microsoft Office 365 cloud." Specifically, Metaswitch's Mobile Control Point technology, Perimeta Session Border Controller, and Managed Service for Teams Calling capabilities are used. Microsoft announced its acquisition of Metaswitch back in 2020.
Operator Mobile Connect also builds on Microsoft's existing Operator Connect partner service for integration with public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone calls, which was commercially released last year. Operator Connect lets organization use carrier phone numbers with Microsoft Teams, with the Microsoft Azure network backbone used for the voice traffic. That traffic subsequently gets routed by Microsoft's telco partners to a PSTN phone line.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.