Microsoft Teams meeting problems? This new tool can help work out why your call quality was so bad

Microsoft has released a tool for admins and support staff to assess the quality of users' calls in real time.

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Microsoft has released a public preview of its real-time call quality analytics (RTA) dashboard to help Teams admins figure out why a meeting's video and audio quality was not what it should be.

It's the first time Microsoft has made such a tool available to assess the quality of Teams calls in real time. Teams has become and will remain essential to modern hybrid-working arrangements. 

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According to Microsoft, this type of analytics is a much needed feature for Teams admins who manage critical business meetings in finance, healthcare and government.

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"Situations can arise where immediate analysis of a scheduled meeting is required and waiting until it has concluded is not an option," notes Microsoft's Siunie Sutjahjo in a blogpost.

It's essentially a dashboard for admins and support engineers to troubleshoot poor Teams meeting quality for their users with Microsoft's telemetry data as a meeting is happening. That's a change from the existing call analytics feature that lets admins view data after a meeting ends. 

"Real-Time Analytics lets IT admins look at their important users' scheduled meetings and see audio, video, content sharing, and network-related issues. As an admin, you can use this telemetry to investigate these issues during meetings and troubleshoot in real time," Microsoft says in support documents. 

The new service gives admins real-time information about Teams meetings for each user in an Office 365 account. The dashboard includes granular information about devices, the network, connectivity, audio, video, and content-sharing issues.

It should help admins and support staff provide help when it counts and covers meeting participants, the times they join and leave a meeting, details about location, devices such as Surface Hub, and operating systems. 

It also analyzes Wi-Fi networks, wireless wide area networks, changes in IP addresses, and provides metrics on network issues, such as jitter, packet loss, and latency. For audio, video and apps, it also provides data on bitrates and frame rates.

This could be a major win for large organizations that need to support large meetings where users are on a mix of home and enterprise hardware and networks. Often, end users don't know if its their hardware or network that's causing the problem or the people on the other end.    

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Microsoft said several customers in the financial services industry have been able to use the dashboard to identify and assist with meetings that were experiencing issues. 

"While active conferences, the support teams were able to identify specific users experiencing either packet loss or latency that exceeded tolerable thresholds. Once they knew which users were causing or experiencing the poor quality, they were able to chat with those users over Teams to run through remediation activities real time," writes Sutjahjo

The dashboard lets admins know whether people on a meeting are connecting through different IP addresses and networks. The dashboard shows whether users are experiencing high packet loss, allowing the admin to target their troubleshooting efforts.

Microsoft plans on further improvements to the service in the first half of 2022, including support for government clouds, a three-day data retention span versus the current 24 hours, and support for Teams in Chrome and Chromium-based Edge. It will also add Wi-Fi network band and signal strength.