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Telstra connects business users directly to Azure and Teams

Telstra announced two new services for business users through its partnership with Microsoft: direct connection to Azure Peering Service and Operator Connect for Teams.

The Australian integrated operator and the country’s largest ISP said on Monday that it has become a selected carrier for the two Microsoft services.

The objective of Azure Peering Service, according to Microsoft, is to provide enhanced connectivity to Microsoft’s cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, software as a service (SaaS) services, Azure, or other Microsoft services accessible via the public internet. The key advantages of peering services over normal connectivity include optimal routing and robust redundancy. Microsoft stresses that a peering service is not a private connection or a VPN.

Although the cloud business of the hyperscalers like Microsoft and Amazon is getting from strength to strength, the relatively weak presence on the network edge, the “last mile” connection to the end customers, makes the role of telecom operators and ISPs more critical to user experience. This is particularly important when remote working has become a dominant mode of operation for many organisations.

Telstra, joining other telco and ISP partners Microsoft has been working with, is therefore well positioned to deliver the desired optimal routing. Telstra is integrating Azure Peering with Global Internet Direct (GID), the telco’s own secure connectivity service for enterprise users “to help ensure connectivity services and secure access through a single network.” Telstra is now offering Azure Peering Service in Asia and plans to expand to Europe and the US next year.

Operator Connect adds new features to the PSTN calling function in Microsoft Teams, making it a new programmatic, operator-managed service. This is important for Telstra (and Microsoft’s other telco partners), enabling them to play a new role in modern day voice communications. The product was launched in March this year, when a string of established telcos in different countries became the first-wave partners, including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Intrado, NTT, Nuwave, Orange Business Services, Pure IP, Rogers, Swisscom, TATA, Telenor, and Verizon.

With Operator Connect, incumbent telcos offering PSTN services to enterprises have a chance to keep and probably upgrade their contract business users when fixed line communication is increasingly being taken out of office.

Already offering Calling for Teams, Telstra sees in the enhanced features offered by Operator Connect an opportunity to offer enterprises “speeding up and simplifying the provisioning of telephony services and reducing deployment time”. Telstra said call quality will also be improved, while administrators will be able to provide and manage telephone numbers via the Microsoft Teams Admin Center.  Related to the first announcement, Operator Connect uses Azure Peering Service as interconnection.

“Microsoft Azure Peering Service provides direct access between Telstra and Microsoft’s networks – providing users with robust connectivity service at a location nearest to them, thereby reducing latency when accessing Microsoft’s workplace services,” Sanjay Nayak, Telstra’s Executive of Fixed Connectivity Products said. “By leveraging Telstra’s connectivity and professional services capabilities and Microsoft’s focus on intelligent cloud services, we aim to help organizations across the region and globally enable a modern work experience,” Nayak added.

“With internet traffic growing at an exponential rate, coverage has become critical for effective virtual collaboration. We look forward to tapping the breadth of Telstra’s network to build the modern workplace and enable more seamless collaboration for organizations,” commented Taimoor Husain, Modern Workplace Strategy and GTM Lead for Microsoft.

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