Telstra announced the service in March 2018 with a handful of customers being part of its limited Early Adopter Program (EAP).
Why Microsoft is partnering with Telstra?
Microsoft has been providing PSTN calling in Office 365, in ten countries, for quite some time, but Telstra Calling for Office 365 is a world first. Undoubtedly, Telstra has the best infrastructure connecting Australian households, businesses and services, and Microsoft, on the other hand, hosts highly reliable cloud services within Australia using local datacentres.
Bringing Telstra’s leading voice capabilities to Microsoft’s world class collaboration platforms such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams has presented a greater deal to Australian customers, including some extra benefits such as:
- The ability to continue using current, negotiated calling rates with Telstra under existing contracts
- Three calling plans to choose from instead of typical Domestic and International calling plans offered in other countries
- Unlimited calling minutes instead of capped per user calling minutes offered in other countries
- Highly competitive pricing plan
- Customer experience packages included
How does Telstra Calling for Office 365 complete the unified communication and collaboration stack?
Up un until now, unified communication and collaboration has been a non-integrated mix of vendors, platforms and technologies which worked well within its own boundaries. But despite the cutting-edge technology, it introduced limitations and complexities which fundamentally defeated the unification purpose. This included:
- Multiple collaboration tools not integrating with each other
- Technologies restricted to the desk
- Restricted working hours
- Disconnected meeting experiences
- Poor document editing tools
- Fragmented document storage
- Uncoordinated security landscape
- Restricted or limited external communication
- Scaling barriers
- Hard to use audio/video conferencing tools
- Lack of user adoption due to frustration
In Australia, Microsoft Office 365 has managed to level out these odds and empower businesses and individuals by providing a true collaborative platform featuring:
- Work from anywhere flexibility
- Same user experience across familiar tools
- Centralised cloud-based storage with better control and visibility
- Collaborative document editing
- Easy online meetings
- Built-in audio/video conferencing
- End-to-end security and control capabilities
- High user adoption and support
- Well documented product information and self-service portals
While all of the above ‘goodness’ was offered, many customers were really waiting for true cloud telephony in Microsoft Office 365 to complete the solution stack. With Telstra Calling for Office 365 this gap has now been filled.
Telstra Calling for Office 365 is now available to customers, subject to some ground rules as per the official webpage:
- Telstra Calling for Office 365 is only available in Australia
- Small and medium sized businesses may not be eligible
- Internet access is a mandatory requirement
- Only available for relevant Office 365 Enterprise licences (you can purchase these from Telstra via the Telstra Apps Marketplace)
- You must have your Microsoft Office 365 tenancy in Australia
- If you’re with another Microsoft Cloud Service Provider you’ll need to move to Telstra to purchase Telstra Calling for Office 365 (your Account Executive or Telstra Partner can help arrange this)
- Managed Services are for on-premises equipment. Your Microsoft Office 365 service or related Microsoft licences and features are not included
How to order Telstra Calling for Office 365?
The applications can only be lodged directly via Telstra or selected channel partnersin Australia.
The process is quite straightforward using the DocuSign electronic application method. At a high level the application requires information regarding the current Microsoft Office 365 Tenant, current Telstra customer details, licensing readiness, contact details and importantly existing number ranges and all site information where the service is required.
If the current Microsoft tenancy is NOT with Telstra as the Cloud Services Provider, you will have to follow a process to link the Tenancy to Telstra and transfer licences.
What about Licensing?
The calling functionality in Microsoft Office 365 is provided by the “Phone System” licensing SKU which can be purchased as an add-on license on E1/E3 plans or as an inclusion with E5. Telstra Calling for Office 365 licensing SKU is only applicable to users who are assigned with a Phone System licence. All licenses can be purchased using the Telstra Apps marketplace.
The costing below is indicative of Enterprise Agreement pricing only. Please reach out to Microsoft account teams to find out your options:
An Audio Conferencing Add-on is optional but I highly recommend having to provide complete meeting experience in Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Teams.
What about the numbers?
All existing and new number requests are handled by Channel Partners and Telstra as per the information provided in the customer application form:
- Greenfield Numbers – customers can negotiate new number blocks per location/state
- Port-in Numbers – port-in existing number ranges from another carrier
- Number Migration – migrate numbers from an existing Telstra service
Today, the traditional unified communication and collaboration is in a real shift towards “Intelligent Communications”, together with the new paradigms of Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, Machine learning and Business Intelligence. Microsoft Teams is becoming the “new norm” of intelligent communications going beyond the typical technology demarcations.
The good news is Telstra Calling for Office 365 enables the calling function in Microsoft Teams as well as Skype for Business in its default configuration. Customers can switch between the platforms seamlessly, with the unparalleled advantage of graceful user migration and co-existence.
Enjoy the “freedom of telephony” in Microsoft Teams and SFBO…No wires attached…