Direct Routing vs Operator Connect – Which is Best for You?

Smiling businesswoman with laptop and headset for video call
If you want to make and receive calls through Microsoft Teams, Direct Routing and Operator Connect are two of the options available. The question is – which is best for you? There are many factors to consider, such as legacy integration, deployment speed and cost. In this article, we’ll help you decide which route is ideal for your organization by outlining both options and the key differences.

Direct Routing & Operator Connect: the basics

Direct Routing and Operator Connect are both alternatives to Microsoft Calling Plans. This is the most straightforward way to enable calling in Microsoft Teams, making it quick to deploy. However, Calling Plans are renowned for being expensive. You’ll also suffer from limited coverage of only 33 countries with a lack of integration and customization. So, let’s take a look at each of the alternatives.


Introducing Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

Direct Routing is a feature launched by Microsoft in June 2018, which enables customers to bring their own telecom services into the Microsoft Cloud for Microsoft Phone System in Teams. This allows businesses to make calls to the public telephone network through local, mobile and international numbers. Direct Routing has generated a buzz in the market because it provides a solution for organizations to leverage preferred telecom rates and take advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Phone System with Teams. Direct Routing offers flexible configuration, support for lots more countries and better integration with legacy systems. However, it does require lots more planning, technical resources and infrastructure, and it can take several weeks to deploy.


What is Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams?

Operator Connect provides the operator with deeper integration into the Teams platform to enhance and streamline the Teams Phone experience around networking, provisioning, management, and reporting APIs. Doing this provides customers with a simplified Teams Phone experience delivered by operators that have parity with Microsoft offerings. It’s quick to deploy with flexible commercial terms and can have a range of benefits such as immediate service activation, flexible voice configuration, and a choice of customisable plans. However, it requires software development and carrier APIs, plus it can’t be integrated with legacy systems.


Key differences between Direct Routing & Operator Connect

Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing allow you to minimise hardware costs and retain relationships with existing carriers  However, there are a few areas where the two differ, which could help you choose the right option for you.


Legacy integration

Direct Routing is the clear choice if you need to integrate with legacy systems like PBX and contact centers. On the flipside, Operator Connect doesn’t enable this kind of integration.


Deployment speed

Operator Connect can be deployed in minutes using the Operator tap in Microsoft Teams. In contract, Direct Routing takes longer several weeks due to the planning and additional resources required.



Direct Routing offers a bit more flexibility than Operator Connect. This makes it ideal for companies with a complex combination of communication providers.



With the right vendors, Direct Routing can be quite simple to manage. However, Operator Connect is definitely the simpler of the two, given that everything can be managed by a certified Microsoft partner.



Both options are significantly cheaper than Microsoft Calling Plans. However, Direct Routing is typically the least expensive of the two.

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