Microsoft Enables Mobile Identities with Teams in Upcoming Operator Mobile Connect
Microsoft last week introduced Operator Connect Mobile, an upcoming new capability that promises to make Teams calls and mobile connections more seamless.
Microsoft plans to release a preview of Operator Connect Mobile sometime “next quarter”. It is planning a commercial release for “general availability” of the service “beginning in the second half of 2022.”
When released commercially, Operator Connect Mobile will require the ‘Teams/E5 phone standard [license] and additional SKU for OCM,” Microsoft explained, in the announcement comments section.
SIM cards for Teams calls
The idea behind Operator Connect Mobile is that Subscriber Identity Units (SIMs) used with mobile phones will be enabled for calls across other devices, such as desktop phones, laptops, tablets, or any device that enables Microsoft Teams collaboration. Operator Connect Mobile offers a so-called “device-neutral” approach that allows users to divert an audio phone call into a Teams session without much effort, which Microsoft calls an “elevation”.
Organizations can assign only one SIM-enabled mobile phone number to their employees under Operator Connect Mobile. Employees will be able to access call logs, voice mail, and presence capabilities across Microsoft Teams and mobile devices. Their Teams contacts will be published in their mobile phone.
IT professionals can set Teams security policies for mobile devices with Operator Mobile Connect. Organizations also get capabilities such as call recording and mobile voice-holding capabilities with the service.
Operator Mobile Connect is described as the “first mobile fixed convergence productivity solution for business” by Mahendra Sekaran, Vice President of Program Management at Microsoft Teams, in a Microsoft Mechanics video:
Leveraging the fabric of trusted connectivity between our telecom partners and Microsoft’s cloud, we can now deliver the first enterprise mobile convergence productivity solution. This means that instead of two commercial numbers for your land line and mobile phone, you can optimize for only one mobile number that supports SIM card and calls are simultaneously routed to your mobile phone, office phone or PC.
The Microsoft Mechanics video showed a Teams call ringing both on mobile and in Microsoft Teams simultaneously, and that was done without the Teams app installed on the mobile device, it was said. Users can answer the call either way. They can also switch the call across devices, or add participants to the call.
Azure for operators
Microsoft Operator Connect Mobile is described as using the operators’ Azure services to connect the 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 are used. Microsoft announced its acquisition of Metaswitch in 2020.
Operator Mobile Connect also relies on Microsoft’s existing Operator Connect partner service to integrate with PSTN phone calls, which were commercially released last year. Operator Connect allows an organization to use carrier phone numbers with Microsoft Teams, while also using the Microsoft Azure network backbone for voice traffic. This traffic is then routed by Microsoft’s communications partners to the PSTN phone line.
Kurt McKee is Senior News Producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 Group.