One of the most exciting announcements coming out of Microsoft in recent months, is that the IT giant is planning to move into the PSTN market (Public Switched Telephone Network = the enormous collection of telephone connections). The plan is to allow users of Skype for Business, its popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol – i.e. calls over the Internet) platform to connect with landlines.

Microsoft/Skype is certainly not the first telecommunications provider to offer such a model – there is already a significant number of companies who offer similar services and have years of expertise. Nevertheless, Microsoft’s clout and popularity will make it an exciting proposition for many companies, so is it time to throw your existing PSTN solution out?

The background

On December 1st of last year, Microsoft’s next step in high-powered productivity platforms was launched. The Office 365 E5 plan makes the most up-to-date features and support for mobile working in a cloud-first world available to the enterprise.

Intelligently engaging with users to boost productivity and simplify how they work, the E5 update – which Microsoft is calling its “most significant release of new enterprise value in the history of Office 365” – continues to include the popular features we’ve come to expect – including SharePoint Online and its ever-expanding, powerful Office apps, OneDrive for Business, Yammer, as well as other familiar standards. But perhaps the most exciting feature to come with the E5 plan, is the Skype for Business Cloud PBX addition.

As you may already know, Skype for Business is formerly Microsoft Lync, rebranded and amalgamated with Skype, giving it a look and feel that millions will be familiar with. What’s more, with its Office 365 integration, Skype for business is a fully functional, single client, enterprise-grade VoIP communications system. It essentially enables users to work more effectively by:

  • Eliminating the need to move back and forth between different platforms
  • Reducing lost momentum searching in the right location for the correct contact
  • Taking advantage of Skype’s intuitive and familiar user interface.
  • Minimising tools for collaboration which can add to IT complexity and lead to issues with user adoption and efficient working practices

Other major features of the service include:

  • Super convenient conference call capabilities
  • Instant messaging and screen sharing with the touch of a button
  • High powered AES encryption
  • Brand new meeting broadcast functionality


Welcome Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling into the equation

One of the main selling points of Skype for Business on the E5 plan is the addition of Cloud PBX (Private Branch Exchange – lets a company set up a telephone network internally) and PSTN Calling. This is the latest move by Microsoft to show their commitment to making communication and collaboration as intelligent and efficient as possible. The new functions will allow companies using the service to:

  • Add dial-in and dial-out capabilities
  • Ultimately eliminate the need for a traditional desktop phone, the cost of line rental, and cost of calls
  • Take advantage of the aforementioned access across devices
  • Enjoy in-app integration such as screen share within documents

PSTN Calling is set to be an extremely useful function and has the potential to make Skype for Business the ace in the pack for Office 365’s enterprise toolkit. The problem is this feature is currently only available to users in the U.S. and only on a beta program. But that’s where Gradwell comes in. As Microsoft 1-Tier Cloud Solution Providers our knowledge and technology are fully compatible with Office 365.

At Gradwell we offer E5 call integration, SIP Trunk interoperability with Skype for Business Cloud PBX with On-Premises PSTN Connectivity, including the soon to be generally available ‘Cloud Connector Edition’ for minimal on premises solutions. As communication experts, and one of the leading VoIP providers in the UK, we know the value of a fully functioning integrated communications system.


Our enhanced offering

  • SIP Trunk interoperability with Skype for Business Cloud PBX with On-premises PSTN Connectivity configurations
  • A new ‘Cloud Connector Edition’ for a minimal on premise solution for Skype for Business

As well as the above core features, we are also in the process of authorising a solution for a full Skype for Business Cloud PBX solution with zero requirement for on premise equipment.

Peter Gradwell – our Founder and CTO recently summed up our enthusiasm for Microsoft’s new approach: “Microsoft’s new Office365 E5 plan is an exciting step forward for Skype for Business and we are pleased to announce that we’ve tested interoperability with our platform. It’s important for us that customers can blend the value & functionality of our own Cloud PBX service with the enterprise features you get with E5”.

That’s why we’ve made sure that our Gradwell PBX phone service with PSTN calling can be easily linked to Skype for Business for immediate integration and a full service experience with all the benefits of Skype for Business on Office 365’s E5 plan once it’s available in the UK. We are leading the way in the VoIP industry and pushing forward the evolution in enterprise calls. Our latest service is designed specifically with Skype for Business in mind. We’re dedicated to technology that revolves around you – flexible, integrated calls, connectivity and cloud services.

Contact us today to learn more how you can add an essential PBX phone service and PSTN Calling technology to your business.


About the Author:

Olivia Lindsey, Marketing & Event Executive

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