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Operator Connect vs Direct Routing: Which One is Right for you?

Operator connect and Direct Routing explained

With more than 270 million monthly active users, Microsoft Teams has emerged more than just as a tool – it is a service that enables exceptional Unified Communication functionality. Teams have become the go-to tool for chat, video calls, voice calls, etc.

We can call any user within the Teams application, but you might be wondering, what about connecting with people outside your organization? No worries, Microsoft will not leave you hanging (but with some trade-offs). Microsoft evolved Teams into a Business Phone System (VoIP services based on Cloud), enabling you to call any external number from the Teams application itself. To enable this service, Microsoft came up with three options:

  • Microsoft Calling Plan

  • Microsoft Operator Connect

  • Direct Routing

In this blog, we will be focusing on the Operator connect and direct routing option. If you are interested to learn more about MS Teams calling plans and other general info read this page about Microsoft Calling Plans.

Direct Routing

Direct routing for Teams links the Microsoft phone system to the public telephone network through a SIP trunk. Microsoft Teams can be connected to various service providers using Direct Routing, giving it the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements. The provider offers the cloud infrastructure required to route incoming and outgoing external calls to Microsoft Teams. Direct Routing connects the Teams system to the PSTN through the use of two important components: a Session Border Controller and SIP Trunks.


  • Select your Preferred Provider

  • Exceptional Global coverage

  • Affordable Pricing

  • Allows enterprises to maintain control over their phone numbers


  • Configuring takes time (You will need the help of 3rd part provider)

  • Some providers may leave you hanging (Like Zipwhip)

  • Dependency on service providers increases.

PSTN connectivity options with MS Teams

Operator Connect

Operator Connect is the recent addition by Microsoft, which simplifies PSTN calling in Teams. Operator connect is a partnership provided by Microsoft with a selective telephony operator (Microsoft approved Operator, obviously) to enable MS Teams calling.

The primary focus of Operator Connect is to employ a PSTN service through a managed service model rather than requiring the client to handle things individually via Direct Routing. Through this collaboration, Microsoft and operators will be able to create a deeper and more strategic partnership that will take Teams Phone to the next level by providing consumers with higher-quality calling experiences.


  • Bring your own Operator. (If it's approved by Microsoft)

  • Faster & easier deployment. (No complexity involved)

  • Manage business communication through Teams admin center

  • Enhanced support


  • Limited country and carrier coverage

  • Cannot handle Complex needs for large businesses

  • No flexibility (Solving complex requirements are limited to the services available)

Which one is preferred for you?

If you want MS Teams as your UCaaS solution, then choosing between Operator Connect and Direct Routing can be tricky.

Operator Connect is best aligned for your organization if your needs are limited and do not require much customization. If your enterprise is relatively small and intends to reduce hardware and maintenance requirements, then Operator connect is best suited for you.

But if the opposite is true, then Operator Connect is not an option for you. Here comes the Direct Routing for those looking for extensive global reach and who want to reduce their costs and much more. Thus, Direct Routing provides the flexibility to incorporate changes and select the provider you want at competitive pricing. As per a prediction by an industry analyst, 90% of industry enterprises using Teams for telephony will use Direct Routing for PSTN connectivity.

So, in the end, it all depends on your organization's needs and the resources you want to invest. However, if you are looking for a Direct Routing provider that satisfies your external calling need at an affordable price, you can check out Falkon VoIP.

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