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Telstra partners with Microsoft for Office 365 calling

Telstra Calling for Office 365 will provide business customers with access to cloud collaboration and voice services within Microsoft's Office 365.

Microsoft has announced partnering with Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra on delivering Telstra Calling for Office 365, a voice-calling service using Microsoft's cloud.

The service will be available for Telstra business customers in Australia from mid-2018, and supports Telstra calling plans from both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams -- the software giant's chat-based Office 365 workspace -- meaning users can access cloud collaboration and voice services from Telstra Calling for Office 365.

"We are always looking for ways we can make it easier for our customers to connect; Telstra Calling for Office 365 brings the full scope of Office 365's cloud productivity and collaboration apps -- including video conferencing and meeting broadcast capabilities -- alongside Telstra voice calling," Telstra ED of Global Products Michelle Bendschneider said.

"By combining what have traditionally been separate collaboration channels, we're helping to increase productivity while simplifying the experience for employees."

Bendschneider attributed the product's launch to Telstra's "close partnership" with Microsoft.

Over 200 customers have taken part in a pilot of the service over the last six months, with 30 Telstra customers now taking part in an early adopter program to move voice services to the cloud. According to Microsoft and Telstra, they have seen "strong" interest in the product.

As one of the seven partners selected to work alongside Telstra and Microsoft on the early adopter program, Empired said it is working with "several customers" on Telstra Calling for Office 365.

"The new solution represents significant value for customers ... they'll be able to move telephony and unified communications to the cloud all through the same platform," Empired national business manager for Cloud Design and Integration Jaen Snyman said.

As of October, Microsoft Office 365 had 120 million business users.

Microsoft had added support for advanced calling capabilities to its Microsoft Teams service in December, extending them from Skype for Business.

"We are releasing new calling capabilities in Teams, providing full featured dialling capabilities, complete with call history, hold/resume, speed dial, transfer, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialling, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, and text telephone (TTY) support," Microsoft's Tech Community blog said at the time.

Microsoft then added new app integration and control functionality to Microsoft Teams at the end of January, calling it "the biggest single release of new functionality since Teams launched last March".

Telstra has also been focused on its business offerings, in September announcing a new unified communications and collaboration solution called Liberate, which allows customers to transition from fixed to mobile calls natively within the Telstra core network.

Telstra director of Global Applications for Global Products Gianpaolo Carraro at the time told ZDNet that Liberate has been in development for around two years, with both the internal Telstra team and the BroadSoft team working on the solution.

"The way it works underneath is we are pushing the call from the [Telstra network] to the BroadWorks environment, so that the call is itself managed by our BroadWorks implementation, and we also used our internal development resources to fine tune some of the experience," Carraro told ZDNet.

"So it's a combination of internal Telstra both at the application level and the network level of course, as well as BroadSoft as the telephony partner."

Telstra had in April announced entering a multi-year deal with BroadSoft to provide unified communications, collaboration, and contact centre services to Australian enterprises, deploying its UC applications across Telstra's IP Telephony (TIPT), Digital Office Technology (DOT), and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Connect solutions.

Back in 2016, Telstra additionally announced a joint venture with the National Australia Bank to form a digital marketplace for SMBs to swap or pay for marketing, design, technology, accounting, and other business services, with the telco also offering SMB apps including Office 365, Box, Squirrel Street, Canvas, Zunos, Deputy, GeoOp, Time Tracker, Neto, and DocuSign.

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