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The Next Big Thing:

Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile


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Most organizations came to the conclusion during the pandemic that computer-based voice applications on a laptops like Teams, Zoom, WebEx and others work just fine and have better voice quality than traditional landlines. Combined with a smartphone, users have all the communication tools they need. The biggest obstacle so far has been the additional cost for getting a phone number and dial plan associated with Teams. In this respect, Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile is a game changer when an existing mobile phone number and subscription can be leveraged from within Teams.


Being able to use an existing mobile subscription in combination with Microsoft Teams reduces total cost of ownership and enables cost effective single number reach, single voicemail and compliance recording for organizations. Use this post to find out the state of Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile and how strategic it is for mobile operators moving forward.

What are the learnings from the last 30 months?

Almost all organizations have learnt the same 3 things in the last 36 months:

1. IP-based voice in Unified Communication apps on laptops and mobile devices works better than desk phone/fixed line voice – experienced on all levels in organizations.

2. Out of sight is not out of line – focus has shifted in most organizations to ensure a proper work/life balance, ensuring that remote employees have a productive environment and performance evaluations has changed to outcome-based assessments.

3. Mobile devices have become more engrained in the organization.

  • Backup to laptop and home broadband and providing home office mobility.
  • Needed for MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) and other mandatory apps like booking a hot desk before coming into the office, getting into office using NFC on the phone instead of swiping a badge etc.

Hence, a lot of organizations have removed or are planning to remove desk phones and IP-PBX infrastructure. On average, the cost for a hosted VoIP solution is roughly USD 30 per connection per month excluding dial plan and desk phone.

Background and history of Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile

Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile was first announced in March 2022 under the name Microsoft Operator Connect Mobile together with operator partners BT, Rogers, Swisscom, Telia and Verizon. The name was changed to Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile during Ignite in October 2022, just as the first mobile operators, Rogers in Canada followed by Telia in Sweden, went live. Deutsche Telekom (DT) also joined as an operator partner in October 2022 and went live in December 2022. Verizon and Swisscom went live in January of 2023 making the total count of operators live in mid-February 2023, five in total.

What are the options to enable inbound and outbound calling with MSFT Teams?

The prerequisites are to have any Microsoft 365 license (or former Office 365) that includes Teams and includes Phone Standard or allows an add-on of Phone Standard. Please note that many of the lower priced licenses like Microsoft 365 Business Basic and E1 and F3 only provide mobile and web access to Teams. Realistically, Microsoft 365 Business Standard or E3 or E5 would be the minimum requirement if Teams is to be run on a laptop in addition to an add on license for Phone Standard for the phone services. The Phone Standard license is included in the E5 license.

There are now four ways to achieve inbound/outbound calling with Microsoft Teams or really 3 ways with a variation on the first way.

1. Operators connecting to the Teams instance. Teams admins are able to allocate phone numbers and dial plans to the users

  • Teams Phone with Calling Plan – Microsoft will be the operator and provide phone numbers and calling plan(s). This option includes the Phone Standard license or the different calling plans offered can be bought as an add on to an E5 license that already includes Phone Standard.
  • Operator Connect – Very similar to the above but company can choose from a number of operators that are connected to the Teams instance (via a SIP trunk) and bring their own agreements. Requires the Teams Phone Standard license. Additional charges are negotiated/determined by the selected operator.

2. Direct Routing – A solution for typically larger companies requiring on premise connectivity and access to legacy solutions in addition to Teams. Direct Routing uses a dedicated SIP-trunk and Session Boarder Controller (SBC).

3. Teams Phone Mobile – Leveraging the existing company provided mobile phone number of a user and their corporate subscription in Teams.

Companies can mix and match between these four options for different parts of the organization and/or different geographies.

The benefits of Teams Phone Mobile

The Teams Phone Mobile solutions offer a number of benefits to companies. The main ones being:

  • Single number reach – the mobile phone number becomes the only phone number and is also used for inbound and outbound Teams calls.
  • One unified call list
  • Single unified voicemail (hosted within Teams)
  • Presence information available to others on Teams so they can see if the user is already on their mobile phone in a call
  • Multi-ring, incoming call will show up on all Teams connected devices for the user that can then choose where to pick up the call
  • Optional rules-based call recording for compliance
  • Automatic resilience – in the unlikely event of comms outage or MSFT datacenter outage where Teams is hosted, calls from the smartphone will go out as “native” mobile phone calls directly on the mobile operator infrastructure bypassing Teams infrastructure and connectivity altogether which means services that are co-located with Teams like voicemail, call uplift and call recording will not work during the outage.
  • The ability to uplift (upgrade) an incoming mobile call to a Teams call and bring in others to the call or transfer it.
  • Leverage the entitlements of a single subscription across all devices.
  • As long as the user is connected to Teams, incoming mobile phone calls will reach them even if they’re out of mobile coverage.

And all of these benefits come in at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to having a separate Teams number/calling plan plus a mobile phone subscription.

What does the TCO look like?

In the calculations below, it’s assumed that a MSFT license that includes Teams already exist. MSFT Teams is the dominant Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) solution among midsize and large enterprises on a global basis. All prices are in USD and based on list pricing or estimated best market pricing for the US market. A reasonable device is included in the cost estimate for the corporate mobile subscription below. The BYOD estimate is based on USD 2 per working day (20 working days per month). Microsoft and operators provide multiple different calling plans and a very basic one with just phone number and domestic minutes is assumed below. The cost of the MSFT calling plan below would be lower for an E5 plan as the Phone Standard license is already included in the E5 license.

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Figure 1: Typical TCO for different ways of providing inbound and outbound calling with MSFT Teams

Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile comes out with the lowest TCO of all options and providing significantly more value than any of the other options. Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile is currently only available in combination with corporate mobile subscriptions, something that is unlikely to change for some time. For many companies, especially ones with a high percentage of mobile or remote users, e g professional services, high tech and even retail, Teams Phone Mobile provides a tremendous value to the end users as well as being a lower cost option. Companies can also select different calling solutions for different parts of the organization if that makes more sense.

What does this mean to Mobile Network Operators?

For communication-intensive companies with large mobile or remote workforces, Teams Phone Mobile is a very compelling offering. These types of companies are usually the most profitable customers to a Mobile Network Operator (MNO). MNOs that can’t offer Teams Phone Mobile will be at a disadvantage and may find themselves in a situation where competitive bidding for a customer may not go anywhere due to lack of Teams Phone Mobile support. The early-moving MNOs will have a competitive advantage as Teams Phone Mobile is a very “sticky” services and hardly any companies want to move away from Teams Phone Mobile once they’ve deployed it. Many companies are banking on that by the time they’re going to renegotiate their mobile contract(s), all major MNOs catering to companies will have adopted it. A typical time to implement Teams Phone Mobile for a MNO is approximately 12 months after the decision is made. When looking at the MNOs that have embraced Teams Phone Mobile, all except two are either founding members of FreeMove Alliance (DT and Telia) or partners (Swisscom and BT).

Final “nail in the coffin” for BYOD programs for smartphones

Teams Phone Mobile currently only works with corporate subscriptions and since corporate subscriptions are usually less expensive than paying a stipend, BYOD becomes a moot point. It also lets companies get out of the uncertainties about fair compensation for BYOD mandated in an increasing number of US states and other countries. Many companies have already rolled out Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) and the preferred way is to use an app on a smartphone. Mandating to use a personal device for authentication will most likely trigger paying a stipend as compensation. Many MFA solutions offer alternative ways to authenticate, e g calling a phone number or using old fashioned key fobs, but it involves a lot of overhead. For highly regulated industries, the ability to do rules-based call recording of calls regardless of source is very welcome. The only adverse effect compared to BYOD programs is the overhead of managing porting in personal mobile phone numbers for employees joining and then porting them back to employees that are leaving the organization. The mobile phone number has to many employees become their “primary identity” and forcing employees to carry multiple phones is hardly ever a good strategy. From a cost perspective, corporate subscriptions are on a global basis moving to unlimited domestic plans with a substantial roaming allocation so there is not really any added cost to allowing reasonable personal use of the device in a Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) plan.


Start investigating now, and plan to remove desk phones wherever possible in the organization and move to a UCaaS solution like Teams for you internal as well as external communication needs. In countries where Teams Phone Mobile is available, start planning to leverage it as the benefits and convenience for users are substantial. Expect all MNOs that are targeting larger companies to support Teams Phone Mobile within the next 36 months so any lock in effect will be temporary.

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Leif-Olof Wallin is an independent Tech Advisor that specializes in Enterprise Mobility, Frontline Workers and Remote Work. Formerly, he was one of the Gartner analysts that published most of the Gartner research around remote work and how to support “the new normal” from an IT perspective. LinkedIn:

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