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Can I Port a Number to Skype for Business Cloud PBX & Office 365 E5?

by Nicole Hayward

Yes. You can port a number (DID) to Skype for Business, assign it to a user, and use Microsoft Office E5 PSTN Calling. But read this first.

Yes. Microsoft has recently announced Office 365 Enterprise E5 with PSTN Calling, including E-911, and Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX. Microsoft says that customers can port numbers to Skype for Business Online and assign the numbers to your users.

The following numbers cannot be transferred:

  • Phone numbers used for data, such as DSL
  • Toll-free phone numbers
  • Residential phone numbers

Each user with a phone number will need an appropriate license for the user: either Office 365 E5 ($20/user/mo), or Enterprise E1 or E3 with the Business Cloud PBX add-on. Then, assign a PSTN voice calling plan ($24/user/mo with annual commitment) to your user. 

... But Do You Want To? Probably Not.

Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 and Skype for Business Online Do Not Offer a Cloud PBX, Contrary to the Marketing

The latest rollout with Skype for Business Cloud PBX is probably the most confusing yet. The question that comes around with each new Microsoft communications product launch is: Can I replace my phone system with Skype for Business and/or Microsoft Office 365 Features? With Cloud PBX in the product description, it seems like you should be able to, right?

The answer is (again): close, but no cigar. Actually, not even. Here are the features currently missing from their "Cloud PBX" offering:

  • Auto Attendants
  • Dial By Name Directory 
  • Call Queues 
  • Call Groups 
  • Call Queue Status (Dashboard)
  • Call Queue Whisper, Monitor, Barge
  • Call Recording
  • Toll-Free Numbers 
  • Extension Dialing (if end user has an IP phone...)
  • Phone Features: Busy Lamp Field, 3-Way Calling, Message Waiting Indicator, Shared Line Appearance, Paging, Call Forward...
  • Telephony Integrations with CRM (e.g. Salesforce) and Help Desk (e.g. Zendesk)
  • Extensive Reporting: Real-time CDRs and Queue Performance

The list does not stop there. Watch this video to see the basic capabilities that Skype's "Cloud PBX" offering currently has:

Other hosted VoIP providers like OnSIP can handle the features above, and then some, packing a lot more value with your monthly bill. 

Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 and Skype for Business Online Do Not Offer a Variety of IP Phones, Contrary to the Marketing

And then there are phones. So far, Microsoft has cited Polycom, Yealink, and Audiocodes will be compatible with Skype for Business Online. I am not correcting any grammar here:

To make your phones easier to manage, you can set up many of the most important phone settings using Windows PowerShell cmdlets, and those settings can be delivered directly to the phones in your organization. These settings will be supported by all newly qualified and compatible phones from Polycom, AudioCodes, and Yealink. Also, both Lync Phone Edition (LPE) and Polycom VVX models of phone will be able to receive firmware updates directly from Skype for Business Online service once the user has signed in on the phone.

You can chose from phones running Lync Phone Edition (LPE) and several models within the VVX line from Polycom.

NOTE   At this time, phones that are available in common areas such as lobbies aren't supported for Skype for Business Online.

When you continue reading the support article, you'll find that only a subset of the Polycom VVX series have been approved, yet, and they are available (somewhere?) with pre-provisioning. 

Wait... Why Are Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 So Confusing?

I think this is because their products have been rebranded, retooled, and repriced several times while cobbling together collaboration offerings. Examples:

  • Launched Microsoft Office Communications Server, renamed it to Lync 
  • Shut down Skype for Asterisk, maintained Skype Out
  • Launched Microsoft Office 365 E1 and E3 with Skype for Business (rebranded Lync)
  • Launched then Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 with Skype for Business Online, a new feature called PSTN Calling, and now the product name Skype for Business Cloud PBX; yet, the Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 product page just calls it "cloud based call management," which is honestly more accurate 
  • All of the above with varying per user licenses and add-ons. 

As a writer at InfoWorld.com put it earlier this month, "Despite years of promises and gap-filling acquisitions, Microsoft's collaboration toolkit remains a woefully inadequate mishmash" in an article entitled, Office 365 Fails at Collaboration

Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 & Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX vs. Hosted VoIP

In summary, yes, you can port numbers to Microsoft. This might be a good idea for your business if you don't need any of the above missing features, already use Microsoft Office 365 collaboration applications, and your team likes Skype as your 'phone' client. 

Otherwise, consider a true cloud PBX service like OnSIP Hosted VoIP and our free browser softphone, and some other awesome applications like Slack (and Slack Video Chat integrations), BasecampGoogle Apps for Work, etc. for collaboration. And check back next year?

 

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