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Written by
Katy Ratican
31 Aug 2022
5 minutes

Direct Routing vs Calling Plans: Which is best for Microsoft Teams?

A comparison of Direct Routing and Calling Plans, the two ways to make calls in Microsoft Teams
Direct routing vs calling plans: Which is best for Microsoft Teams?

As a chat-based internal communications platform, Microsoft Teams is built to enhance collaboration through online meetings, file sharing and other features. Teams enables voice and PBX capabilities through Direct Routing and Calling Plans.

In this guide to Microsoft Teams Direct Routing vs Calling Plans, we will understand what they are and their advantages and disadvantages.

How does a VoIP or cloud-based phone system work?

A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone enables calls and messages over the internet. Unlike the traditional PBX (private branch exchange) system, there’s no need for heavy infrastructure, copper wires or hardware. They are called cloud-based phones because all information is stored in the cloud.

VoIP phones work by converting voice into digital packets. These are transferred over the internet and unpacked at the receiver’s end. A VoIP phone can be used on any connected device including laptops, smartphones, tablets, traditional phones with adapters and VoIP-enabled phones. Cloud-based phones are the right option for small businesses because there are no hardware or maintenance costs.

Microsoft Teams Calling Plan - What it is

Microsoft offers Calling Plans on a per-user license. The plans come with phone numbers, a bundle of minutes and PSTN services. Microsoft maintains the plans through Office 365. Businesses don’t have to worry about additional PSTN (public switched telephone network) carriers. These plans convert Microsoft Teams into a hosted PBX.

You get both International and Domestic Calling Plans with Teams. With Domestic Calling Plans, licensed users can call those in the same country or region where their Microsoft or Office 365 is assigned. With the International Calling Plan, you can call international numbers. The plan you choose will come with a specific number of minutes.

Advantages and disadvantages

Managed by Microsoft

The fact that the plans are handled by Microsoft has both advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that it has top-tier security, support and services. But some firms would prefer third-party carriers because they are inexpensive and more flexible.

Limited presence

The Calling Plans from Microsoft are sold per country and per plan. There are only 10 countries on the list. This restricts businesses from other countries.


Small businesses and startups would find Microsoft Calling Plans to be expensive. The domestic plans start at $12 per user per month and the international plans would cost you $24 per month.

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing - What it is

Direct Routing allows users to connect their phones to the PSTN. It’s done through SBC (session border controller) and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks. This gives the flexibility to connect Microsoft Teams to different telephony providers.

By converting Teams into PBX, Direct Routing unifies business communication and makes it stronger and easier. Compared to Calling Plans, Direct Routing is more cost-effective and flexible.

Advantages and disadvantages


With Direct Routing, you can select your telephony provider and integrate it with Microsoft Teams. You can choose a provider based on their costs, features and support. If you already have a contract with a provider, you can also move them to Teams.


The biggest reason to consider Direct Routing is that it’s less expensive than Calling Plans. You can avail of cheaper licenses and call rates, which will substantially reduce your monthly fees.

Number porting

It can be challenging and tedious to port your existing number to Calling Plans. But number porting with Direct Routing is easier and simpler. Your provider will handle it for you once you request them.

PBX tools

A good business phone system should come with features to help optimise your business communication. Direct Routing gives you functionalities including queueing, routing, call transfer, holding, simultaneous ringing, auto-attendant, voicemail, speed dial and Microsoft Meeting Rooms.

Global presence

Unlike Calling Plans, which are limited to certain countries, Direct Routing is available in all countries.

Chalkboard: A business alternative to direct routing and calling plans

If you’re a large or medium-sized enterprise, Direct Routing or Calling Plans from Microsoft Teams should interest you. But if you’re a small or independent business, startup or freelancer, what you need is Chalkboard, a business phone alternative that offers everything you need to streamline your business communication.

Rated among the best second phone number apps, Chalkboard gives you a host of features at an affordable price.

You get a second number. The process is quick and easy. You don’t have to choose between conflicting plans or worry about complex installation. Download the app and you get a second line for work.

You get to use advanced messaging. Chalkboard has broadcast SMS for group messaging that allows you to grow your business through text marketing.

You can increase collaboration. Team members can share their numbers, which will help you improve internal collaboration.

You get auto-reply. Missed a call? Chalkboard will send an auto-reply to the caller to continue the conversation.

Download Chalkboard today. It’s a feature-rich and affordable business phone built for ease of use.

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