Setting Up A Dedicated Conference Bridge
Assigning a Number to a Conference Bridge
1) Head to the Teams Admin Center at admin.teams.microsoft.com
2) You’ll need a dedicated phone number to which you’ll be assigning the Teams conference bridge. Find your existing phone numbers, or add new ones, from Voice → Phone Numbers.
Existing phone number:
- To assign the conference bridge to a number you already own, first select the phone number. Then, click Edit and change the assignment to "Dedicated Conference Bridge".
- If the number has not yet been assigned, assign the number as a conference bridge from the drop-down menu.
- Note: You can assign unassigned numbers to a conference bridge from Meetings → Conference Bridges → + Add
New phone number:
- To assign the conference bridge to a new phone number, click Add. Fill in the form here and under ‘Number Type’ select ‘Dedicated Conference Bridge’. Both Toll and Toll-free Numbers are available. Complete the wizard and you’ll have a dedicated conference bridge number.
Aside: Toll and Toll-Free Numbers
A Toll-free Number will forward the call charges to the host of the call. A Toll Number charges the dialling party. Most of the numbers you call every day are Toll Numbers.
Toll-free Numbers cannot be set as default conference bridge numbers. Nor can they be dialled by users outside of your country. Since there are other restrictions on Toll-free Numbers too, we recommend using Toll Numbers for your conference bridges as standard.
Set Dedicated Conference Bridge as Default Bridge
Next, you may want to make your new, dedicated conference bridge line the default conference bridge for your organisation.
Changing a User's default conference bridge number will change the Audio Conferences number for Teams meetings created by that user. You’ll see this in (i) the Teams Calendar entry and in (ii) meeting email invites.
In the Teams Admin Center:
- Users → Click User Name → Audio Conferencing → Click Edit → Change the number.
You can also change the default conference bridge phone number globally, again from the Teams Admin Center:
- Meetings → Conference Bridges
- To do this, head to Meetings → Conference Bridges
- Select your new conference bridge number (sort by Type to find it quickly) and click the ‘Set As Default’ option at the top.
- Note: remember that a Toll-free Number cannot be set as the default conference bridge number.
Conducting the Conference Call
With your desired default conference bridge number(s) set, create a meeting from the Calendar. You can also create meetings from the drop-down to the right of the ‘Meet’ button.
When it’s time for your meeting, ring the dedicated conference bridge phone number and enter the conference ID. These will be listed in the meeting invites (emailed to Users upon creation) and in the meeting details. View meeting details in the Calendar entry or the event feed.
As the creator of the meeting, you’ll need to enter your unique Audio Conferencing PIN Number to begin the meeting.
Note: by default, invitees will be held in a meeting ‘lobby’ and only passed through to the conference call once the meeting organiser starts it.
This can be changed from the Teams Admin Center to allow any dial-in caller to start the meeting. From the Teams Admin Center:
- Users → Click User Name → Audio Conferencing → Click Edit → Toggle ‘Dial-in callers can be the first person in a meeting’.
Inviting External Users to Conference Calls
Unless you purchased your Audio Conferencing license as part of Microsoft Business Voice, you won’t be able to invite external users to your conference calls. By 'external users', we mean anyone that is not a part of your Organisation in Teams.
If this is something your business needs to do, you will need to connect Teams to the PSTN via Microsoft Phone System or a Direct Routing solution.
So which should you choose?
Microsoft Phone System and Teams Direct Routing
In brief, this decision comes down to how demanding your business is when it comes to phone system features and calling plan restrictions. If your business makes a lot of outbound calls and needs a flexible phone system, then you’ll want to integrate with a third-party provider. You can do this using Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams.
This is because Microsoft Phone System is underpowered. Though many of the features you’ll need, like Auto Attendants, Call Queues and Call Recording are present, these features come with limitations. Call recording with Microsoft Phone System, for example, must be started manually by the user for each call. This will notify other participants on the call that call recording has begun (which you may or may not want, but this cannot be switched off).
As of a recent update, Teams supports third-party call recording solutions for recording calls and meetings. If you’re using a third-party provider for call recording, though, why not use that provider to power up Teams as a whole?
Yay.com offers unlimited call recording for customers on our Enterprise plan. Admins can toggle call recording on/off globally and even set up automatic backups to the cloud storage platform of your choice.
Handily, we also provide a Direct Routing solution for Microsoft Teams free for our customers. This makes our Direct Routing solution one of the most affordable and powerful on the market.
For a full breakdown of the limitations of Microsoft Phone System, see our blog post on Microsoft Phone System vs Teams Direct Routing.
Alternate Methods for Teams Conference Calls
There are a couple of other methods for making a conference call in Microsoft Teams. You can begin one in an ad-hoc fashion by inviting users to join your ongoing calls. Or, you can invite users to a scheduled meeting. All users will then call into a shared conference bridge phone number.
Shared conference bridge numbers are available by country or region and are available without having to do anything. Since it’s a shared number, attendees will be prompted to enter the conference ID whilst dialling into the call. This way, you’ll all dial into the same conference line, despite using a number shared by thousands of Teams users worldwide.
For more details on these two methods of beginning a Microsoft Teams conference call, see the video embedded earlier in this article.