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Exploring PSTN Calling – Part 1 Licences

Sep 9, 2016 by Emma Robinson

If you work in a more ‘traditional’ office set-up (and by that I mean a desk and a chair in an office) it’s more than likely that there is a phone system (which looks a little like the one below) sitting somewhere within reach, or at least in sight.
Well Microsoft believes that in the modern, cloud-first workplace this is the next thing to go, and it aims to do this through PSTN calling for Skype for Business.
Now would be a good time to point out that this functionality isn’t new, it was released in November last year, and it’s likely that many of you have already ditched the phone system in favour of this new feature.
But if you have made the move, you will know that it involves some head-scratching, as the set-up and configuration can be a bit of a challenge, and that the tool requires a different kind of monitoring and management than your previous versions of Skype for Business, and your old phone system. With this in mind, we thought we would take a look at what you can expect when you decide to move your phone system into Office 365, starting with licensing.
1. Get Cloud PBX 
Cloud PBX enables call control and PBX capabilities in Office 365 through Skype for Business Online. It is included in an Office 365 Business Premium licence (with Voice) or an E5 Licence. It can also be purchased as an add-on to other licence types.
You will need Cloud PBX in order to use the service, therefore you will either need to assign these licences (if they are included in your plan), or you will need purchase them as an add-on.
To get the add-on: 

  1. Sign in to the Office 365 Admin Center
  2. Click on ‘Billing Subscriptions’ and then ‘Purchase services’
  3. Select ‘Cloud PBX’ and add the number of licences you need.

2. Pick your PSTN Calling plan
As well as Cloud PBX, you will also need to add on a PSTN Calling plan. There are a range of different plans, these include:

  • PSTN Consumption Billing: This plan is kind of like a pay as you go phone contract, where you are charged a certain amount per call. You can prepay a set amount, or alternatively, you can configure your account to ‘top up’ automatically when your account reaches a certain balance, so that you never run out of funds.
  • Domestic calling: Licensed users will be able to call numbers located within the country or region that their Office 365 licence is assigned.
  • Domestic and International calling: Licensed users will be able to make calls in the country and region where their Office 365 Licence is assigned, and to 196 international countries (Click here for the full list of available countries).

Details on the number of calling minutes available with each plan are available here.
3. Buy your PSTN Calling plan 
Follow the same steps as above for Cloud PBX (you can even add both services at the same time), and choose either ‘Skype for Business PSTN Consumption’ shown in the screenshot below, or ‘Skype for Business PSTN International and Domestic calling’ or ‘Skype for Business PSTN Domestic calling’ should also be available (as these add-ons are already added to our subscription, they are not visible in the image below).
Once you’ve assigned your licences and purchased your add-ons for both elements, you should be ready to get PSTN calling set up. Our next blog post on this topic will talk you through how to add or transfer phone numbers, assign them to your users, and get calling! Later in the series, we will explore the best ways for managing PSTN calling, consumption and billing.
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