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There are a handful of stories in the unified communication and collaboration space that stand out in 2022, with Microsoft Teams’ expanded calling capabilities being front and center. It’s a story that starts in 2021 and picked up momentum in mid-2022.

Microsoft Teams has become a leader in the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market but success with voice has never been at its core compared to most other providers. However, the demand for Microsoft Teams calling is high. The launch of Microsoft Operator Connect towards the end of 2021promised easier implementation of calling with Microsoft Teams. The cost and complexity of Microsoft Teams direct routing solution had previously put PSTN calling out of reach for many businesses, so Operator Connect had the potential to give Microsoft Teams users an easier path to PSTN-enabled voice connections.

The reality ended up being much harder than promised with Operator Connect and its SIP trunking partners. By summer 2022, Microsoft had launched the Operator Connect Accelerator Program, providing network operators with a turnkey solution to bring calling services to Microsoft Teams. The Accelerator program provides a suite of capabilities, including managed SBC as a service, API bridging to the Operator Connect APIs, integration into OSS/BSS platforms, and network as a service into the Microsoft Teams cloud. Vendors benefiting from the program include Audiocodes, NuWave, Ribbon, Sippio and Microsoft’s own Azure for Operators (formerly Metaswitch). And then there a number of UCaaS providers including RingCentral, 8×8, and Vonage that are taking advantage of the challenges around Microsoft Teams calling by aggressively marketing their own direct routing services coupled with their voice solutions.

Another story that shaped the UCaaS landscape this past year: While operators continue to be successful with voice trunking, they continue to see demand for UCaaS services but many are choosing not to manage and maintain their own platforms. Instead, there are more operators opting for partnerships. Notably, Lumen partnered with Alianza for its own branded UCaaS service, Lumen Cloud Communications, in April.

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