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What does 'bring your own carrier' mean for UCaaS platforms?

Migrating to UCaaS doesn't always mean an organization can keep its PSTN or SIP carrier. But some providers are taking a 'bring you own carrier' approach to offer more flexibility.

Traditional on-premises unified communications deployments were designed to be completely agnostic when it came to a customer's public switched telephone network carrier. But as businesses begin to explore migrating their legacy UC services to the cloud, many IT administrators are surprised to learn that some cloud-based UC service providers force customers to use one of their preferred carriers.

Let's take a closer look at what bring your own carrier (BYOC) means to modern UC platforms and the potential effects that go along with it.

UC as a service (UCaaS) has become a popular choice for organizations both small and large. The flexibility of the cloud works well when delivering voice, video and instant messaging services to employees who often work both inside and outside the office. However, when choosing a UCaaS provider, it must be understood that organizations may not be able to swing their current public switched telephone network (PSTN) or session initiation protocol (SIP) carrier to a particular managed service. Instead, UCaaS providers may require organizations to either use their native PSTN service or select from a list of partners.

For smaller organizations, getting out of existing PSTN carrier contracts and porting a few direct inward dial (DID) numbers to a new carrier may not be a big concern. But for larger businesses, porting hundreds to thousands of numbers can become a time-consuming headache. Additionally, large businesses may have negotiated attractive long-term contracts with carriers, putting them in a situation where migrating to UCaaS no longer becomes cost-effective.

All hope is not lost, however. UCaaS providers are beginning to offer customers the ability to bring their own carrier as they migrate to cloud-based UC. At one time, for example, Cisco required that customers select from one of just two PSTN carriers for voice services within the Webex Calling platform. But over time -- and likely due to pushback by prospective customers -- Cisco now offers six different PSTN carriers for customers to select from. Likewise, Microsoft offers a direct routing service within the Teams platform to direct PSTN calls to an organization's existing SIP provider. While BYOC may not be completely possible with all UCaaS providers today, it looks like we're headed in that direction.

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