Skype for Business – Frequently Asked Questions

In the spirit of sharing things I learn as I go about my daily business, I thought it would be a good idea to write up answers to some common questions I get about Skype for Business.

Microsoft has invested a lot in Skype for Business recently, particularly in the new functionality of Office 365 E5: PSTN conferencing, PBX in the cloud, and PSTN calling from the cloud. These new features bring about significant cost savings for customers and open up the potential for more organisations to work flexibly, anywhere, anytime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which handsets are supported for use with Skype for Business Online?

There are a number of handsets, largely Polycom devices, which are suitable “cloud IP” phones. There’s a handy portal which lists them and contains links to the vendors for more information.

How do I assign a user or number to a handset?

It’s not so much a case of assigning something to the handset. Each user can sign into a handset as required. Since handsets require licenced users in order to use them, phones for common areas (i.e. a lobby) are not currently supported.

Numbers (part of the PBX functionality) can be assigned to users as long as they have a corresponding Office 365 licence. This follows them wherever they sign in; whether that’s on the phone, the Skype for Business client for Windows, or any of the mobile clients.

Therefore, if you want a user to be able to use a physical cloud IP phone all they require is a supported handset (see above) and the requisite licence.

Can I use busy lamp field (BLF) devices with Skype for Business?

If you’re using a supported cloud IP phone, such as the VVX phones from Polycom, then you can get expansion modules that can support this functionality. The expansion modules take their functionality from the UCS code loaded onto the VVX handset to which they are coupled and support Skype for Business Server and Online services. They reflect status of pinned contacts just as the contact list on the handset does.

How do the calling plans work?

Minutes purchased are pooled at the tenant level, by type and geography. If you purchase 2 PSTN Domestic Calling subscriptions in the U.K. then you’d have 2400 minutes per month pooled for use. How these minutes are spent, etc. is all documented in a very wordy support page. It’s a read and a half, but there’s loads of helpful detail.

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