Direct Routing vs Operator Connect: What’s the difference?
We often get asked to explain the difference between Direct Routing and Operator Connect. So here is our explanation…
Direct Routing is a feature of Microsoft Teams Phone System that allows a UCaaS vendor to connect to an organization’s Phone System account using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks. Direct Routing enables TSPs (telecommunications service providers) to provide SIP Trunking services to organizations that have migrated or are planning to migrate to Microsoft Phone System.
With the large base of Teams users and heavy marketing support from Microsoft, many UCaaS vendors have embraced SIP Trunking as their strategy for Teams. Rather than completely lose the business to Microsoft, these vendors have pivoted to partnering with Microsoft. For a UCaaS provider, the decision to sell Direct Routing can be difficult to embrace because it means trading a high value UCaaS seat for a SIP Trunk that is often considered to be a lower value service. Not only is the average revenue per user (ARPU) for SIP Trunking typically less than the ARPU for UCaaS, but also SIP Trunking is less sticky than UCaaS, often resulting in higher churn.
Additionally, adopting Direct Routing as a product can be challenging because it requires technical expertise and engineering skills that are not commonly found in the UCaaS provider’s staff – especially for providers that are not Microsoft shops already. Specifically, configuration of Direct Routing requires familiarity with Microsoft’s proprietary command line and scripting language, Powershell, for managing user accounts and permissions.
Operator Connect reduces many of the technical complexities associated with Direct Routing by streamlining the provisioning process needed to connect telephone numbers and SIP Trunks to Microsoft Phone System.
With Operator Connect, there is no need to deploy a certified SBC or deal with Direct Routing, as Microsoft provides these functions internally.
By joining the Operator Connect program, certified TSPs can offer services directly within the Teams admin interface in a way that makes it possible to create a seamless user experience. Unlike Direct Routing which requires complex configuration that includes the use of Powershell commands, the Operator Connect model is largely automated on the Microsoft side so that day- to-day administration can be handled by most any IT staff. Configuring a connection to a participating TSP is meant to be a point and click activity.
To become a certified telecommunications service provider (TSP) for Microsoft Operator Connect, a company needs to complete a certification process with Microsoft that involves several steps, including:
Technical Validation: The TSP must have a proven track record of delivering high-quality voice services and must pass technical validation tests to ensure that their infrastructure is compatible with Microsoft Teams Phone System.
Security Review: The TSP’s infrastructure and security measures must be reviewed to ensure that they meet Microsoft’s security requirements for Operator Connect
Service Review: The TSP must demonstrate that they can provide high-quality voice services, with a focus on reliability, call quality, and customer support.
Compliance Review: The TSP must demonstrate that they can meet regulatory compliance requirements for Operator Connect, such as emergency calling regulations.
Partner Agreement: Once the TSP has completed the certification process, they must sign a partner agreement with Microsoft.
After becoming a certified TSP, the provider’s services will be listed in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, where customers can view their services and purchase them directly from Microsoft. The TSP will also have access to Microsoft’s APIs and tools to enable seamless integration between their services and Microsoft Teams Phone System.
Overall, becoming a certified TSP for Operator Connect involves a rigorous certification process to ensure that the provider can deliver secure and compliant voice services within Microsoft Teams Phone System