Don’t Forget About Your Microsoft Teams PSTN Pooled Usage Minutes for Audio Conferencing Meetings
With the major uptick in “work from home” or “remote work” going on across the world right now, we have seen a significant increase to Microsoft Teams usage. Microsoft Teams is a great platform to facilitate this remote collaboration and really is a fantastic modern platform for collaboration. I recently even used teams for a family gathering where we were not all able to be together in person. It worked out great and my “non-technical” in-laws were even able to join in guest mode and participate without a lot of tech support from me.
With this increased usage of Microsoft Teams and meeting usage, we have seen a few of our customers hitting their max pooled minutes of dial-in or dial-out via Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) minutes. Some were not even aware of this “cap” to PSTN dial-in/dial-out and were surprised to get an email with the subject of “Warning! You’ve almost used up your Teams/Skype for Business PSTN minutes for this month”. Below is a copy of this email you may see if you get close to or max out your pooled minutes of PSTN usage for meetings:
So what is going on here exactly?
In short each user in your tenant that is assigned an “Audio Conferencing” license (provides a PSTN dial in phone number that shows up when they schedule a meeting) is given 60 minutes a month of “pooled” minutes that can be used for inbound PSTN or outbound PSTN dialing for meetings. This pooling is specifically used for meetings, and is separate from any domestic or international dial plans that you may or may not have. Many organizations may not have gone all in with using Teams as a full phone system which requires these domestic or international dial plans or direct routing but instead are using the great capabilities of Microsoft Teams WITH the PSTN dial-in functionality which is ONLY available when you have these “Audio Conferencing” licenses assigned to users. You can get these "Audio Conferencing" licenses via either the “Office 365 E5” or “Microsoft 365 E5” bundles or al-a-cart via the “Audio Conferencing” add-on license if you don’t have the E5 bundle options.
So let’s say you have 120 users in your organization that have the Audio Conferencing license (either via the bundles noted, or directly assigned). You take 120 x 60 minutes and you end up with 7,200 pooled minutes per month that are available in your tenant for PSTN dial-in or PSTN dial-out of meetings. The PSTN dial-out functionality comes if you add a PSTN phone # to a meeting, or have Teams call out to your PTSN number instead of joining via the Teams web or desktop client.
Once you have consumed this 7,200 minutes, users will no longer be able to dial-in or dial-out of meetings using PSTN functionality. NOTE: you can still participate in Microsoft Teams meetings via the web or desktop Teams clients as this does NOT consume your PSTN pooled minutes. This is actually the preferred and recommended approach when your bandwidth is sufficient to allow audio/video. In fact, the audio quality when you use the web or desktop clients is typically much better than when you use PSTN. So, I always try audio via the Microsoft Teams client before I resort back to PSTN for audio.
To check your PSTN pooled minutes in the NEW Microsoft Teams portal (vs the instructions Microsoft points to in the email to use the “Legacy Portal”) you can do this by going to Portal.office.com and logging in as a “Global Administrator” or “Teams Communications Administrator”.
From here launch the Admin tile:
Then under Admin Centers select the Teams admin center:
From here, look under Analytics & reports, Usage reports and select the “PSTN minutes and SMS (preview) pools” report.
Click Run report and here you will see your total pooled minutes, and how many you have used for the month:
Here is an example report that shows 9600 total pooled minutes, where only 335 have been consumed (green is good):
Here is another tenant where all the pooled minutes have been used up (purple is bad):
If you find yourself needing to purchase “Communication Credits” to increase your available PSTN minutes for meeting dial-in or dial-out functionality then reach out to us. There are multiple ways of doing this depending on how your licensing is setup and we can guide you through this process.
This may be helpful to know if you will be hitting this wall and how it will affect your end users etc.
Eric Raff Cloud Practice Director JourneyTEAM