I was very excited to see the announcement a couple days ago of some new Skype for Business services that are now available in Technical Preview. One of the most frequent questions I get from partners is “When is Skype for Business Online (formally Lync Online) going to support native voice/PSTN calling?”. I’m happy to say this Technical Preview is the first step in finally seeing this become a reality.
Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling is now available in Preview to Office 365 customers in the U.S., with general availability expected before the end of the calendar year. This capability gives customers the ability to make and receive traditional phone calls directly from their Skype for Business client, and to manage these calls with features like hold, resume, forward, and transfer. Later this year we will see this opened up to customers worldwide, and with a configuration option for customers to use existing on-premises phone lines for inbound and outbound calling.
Two other Skype for Business services that have also been announced in Preview are PSTN Conferencing and Skype Meeting Broadcast.
PSTN Conferencing allows people invited to a Skype for Business meeting in Office 365 to join the meeting by dialing in using a landline or mobile phone. This traditional dial-in capability is in addition to simple, single touch join options on PC, smartphone and browser, and allows people to join an online meeting even in places with no Internet access. Prior to this, a third-party ACP (Audio Conferencing Provider) service was required to give this capability.
Skype Meeting Broadcast enables broadcast of a Skype for Business meeting on the Internet to up to 10,000 people, who can attend from a browser on nearly any device. This makes it easy to host large virtual meetings like internal “Town Hall” style meetings and public webinars.
It is expected that these services will be generally available before the end of this year. Pricing and licensing details will be shared as we get closer to general availability.
For more information, and to register for these Preview services, see the main Skype for Business Preview page.
For documentation and readiness training on these Preview services, see the Skype for Business Preview Resources page.