Microsoft Team Phone System – Review

I’ve been deploying VoIP phone systems for over a decade now and so have a broad knowledge of many of the leading systems available today. Microsoft Teams is top-of-list for the most refined, easy to use, easy to deployed system available today.

The Pros

  • By far the easiest phone system to deploy physical phones on. Any user that can use Teams can setup their own phone because the phone interface is identical.
  • Soft phone quality is excellent. I’ve used a lot of softphone in the last 10 years. Teams is simple to use, reliable and the best audio performance available
  • Video Conferencing is top notch. Its easy to send out invites for a meeting and its easy to join from a request. Quality is excellend

Important Missing Features

To this point, we’ve been using Microsoft Teams Phone System for six months now. The experience has been good. There are key missing features that are simply not there.

  • BLF, Busy lamp field. BLF is a common and core feature of all other phone systems. It allows you to place a speed dial button on your phone to reach other extensions, easily transfer to other extension and most importantly, see whether that extension is on a call, not on a call or has a ringing call. This feature is simply not available on Microsoft Teams
  • More than one Direct DID assigned to a ring group, user, queue, auto attendant. We often have multiple phone number assigned for inbound number for regional reasons or just to park an un used extension for a vacant position. This is not available in Teams. Each extension can only have phone number. Full stop.
  • Routing calls from a ring group/queue to an external number. We often route calls to a external receptionist so they can be answered when we’re out of office. Routing calls to outside parties from a ring group or queue do not work.
  • No Dashboard for calls. Its common to have a interface to see active calls on the system and see who is talking to who. This is important for a manager or installer to keep an eye on the performance of the system. With Teams, there simply is no similar portal to see active calls.
  • Softphone app is awesome but a bit glitchy. When I want to dial a number, I click “Calls” then “dial” and when I go to the field to put the number in, the entire panel disappears and I need to click the “Calls” tab again.
  • Costs. In addition to the regular line and calling costs, there is a ~$10 surcharge on each extension with Team. Auto attendants and Queues also bear a “Resource” charge and call usage is also billed. In addition you must have a Office 365 E3 License which is ~$25 / month.

If you are considering a migration to Microsoft Teams, we would like to help you with deployment. We have experience with the various Microsoft Teams conference devices and desk phones and deployment of phone lines via direct routing or the Microsoft calling plan.

Not happy with your Zoom performance? Here are some tips to deliver better.

We’re now all in week two plus of our self isolation and working from home. Meetings are quickly shifting to online and from home and that’s not something we’ve had to do before. Here are some tips to stage a better personal Zoom studio.

  1. Dedicate some space to your Zoom studio. Keep it small and off of your home office work space. A Zoom studio doesn’t need to be more than a 4 ft x 4ft corner. The work-space is shared but the background is dedicated for your studio. The corner of a room behind your desk works very well.
  2. Cover up those bare walls with something interesting but not distracting. A inexpensive way to do this is to go to your local thrift store and buy used full length curtains. Curtains have simple interesting patterns and add depth to your studio in a simple and cost effective way. If the thrift stores are still closed, visit Walmart. Walmart is a great place to get curtain rods as well. When your studio is facing a corner and one wall has curtains. Place a simple book case in the other. Books are a colorful way to make an interesting background but you can also use colorful knick knacks and plants. Remember this is a studio and so this is not a place to store papers and other things. Walmart is a great place for simple book cases and shelves.
  3. Invest in a dedicated web cam and stick it on a camera tripod. Every laptop has a web cam and it will get you by. The camera angle is far from optimal and the quality is borders on acceptable. I recommend the Logitech Brio web cam. It has a tripod mount so you can get an optimal angle. Its a 4K camera but I reduce it to the minimum resolution. Because its a 4K camera, it has better optics and better low light sensitivity which makes a big difference even at a lower resolution.
  4. A better microphone will significantly improve your presentation. I often use a bluetooth headset for my smartphone, paired to my laptop. A wired usb headset is often less trouble. I recommend the Yealink UH33 for its quality and price point. A wired lavalier mic works very well as well.

The world has changed and Zoom calls will become a regular part of what we do. A investment into a studio today will allow you to deliver more professionally in the months and years ahead where we continue to self isolate and work remotely.

The Great Firewall of Canada is finally being built!

Since the launch of the information super highway, highwaymen have roamed free with little restriction of their movement. In 2020, these highwaymen control the botnet networks that control crypto-virus extortion schemes still with little potential of policing or prosecution.

The internet had been envisioned as a unrestricted pool of human knowledge available to citizens of the post-national states and therefore border-less. In the real world, jurisdictions need borders to enforce legislation and protect its citizenry and this has been largely missing from the internet.

A few jurisdictions made an early start of partitioning the internet for their own purposes most infamously, China. They’ve been able to control content to protect their citizenry from things they consider social evils and illegal activities. The likes of Jordan B Peterson has made the concept of these restrictions more palatable but on a smaller scales when he reminds us that we put locks on our home for a reason – not everyone is welcome.

CIRA, the Canadian internet body is finally taking strong steps to provide jurisdictional borders on our Canadian internet by cleansing DNS records. DNS is like the “White pages” of the internet and critically looks up internet content dozens of times each time you visit a web page. Locking down DNS gives the ability to lock down content deemed high risk , illegal or beyond jurisdictional review. All in all its a good thing. If you’d rather have everything – go browse the dark web. For the average Canadian, this is safer better and faster.

The implementation is easy. Just update the DNS records in your Shaw / Telus router with the custom DNS servers provided by CIRA. All content is then looked-up in the CIRA DNS servers and questionable content is simply not returned.

There are three filtering levels available: Private, Protected, and Family.

Private: DNS resolution service that keeps your DNS data private from third-parties. Use DNS Servers: 149.112.121.10 and 149.112.122.10

Protected: Includes Private features and adds malware and phishing blocking. Use DNS Servers 149.112.121.20 and 149.112.122.20

Family: Includes Protected and Private features and blocks pornographic content. Use DNS Servers: 149.112.121.30 and 149.112.122.30

Good job to the folks at CIRA and taking some bold steps to provide internet borders for Canadians.

For more information on CIRA’s Canadian Shield visit: https://www.cira.ca/cybersecurity-services/canadian-shield