Lync to Phone is the latest offering from Microsoft Office 365 that allows users to go beyond the existing IM/Presence capabilities of Lync Online and start the take advantage of telephony. Customers who subscribe to this plan (Lync Plan 3) are able to make and receive phone calls to/from external telephones with their Lync Online client. Additionally, combined with these voice capabilities, you can expect all the previously existing features and functionality of Lync Online:
• Real-time presence information—including photos, availability status, and location—and enhanced instant messaging (IM) to connect efficiently and effectively.
• Make voice calls through your computer to other Lync users in your organization or in other organizations that use Lync.
• Get a single work number to make and receive calls to any phone number.
• Create, moderate, and join pre-planned and on-the-fly audio, video, and web meetings with people inside and outside your organization.
• Enhance online presentations with screen-sharing and virtual whiteboards.
• Let customers participate in your Lync conference calls even if they are not Office 365 customers.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind at this point in time:
1. Lync Plan 3 is currently not available with the E4 License suite with Office 365 (though it will be soon!)
2. A calling service provider is required for Lync to Phone functionality
a. There is only one approved vendor for this service at this time, Jajah Voice (http://office365.pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-us/applications/jajah-voice-for-office-365-12884930736/company)
b. There is a separate charge for the calling service above and beyond the “per user, per month” price for Lync Plan 3, ranging from $14-$30 per line, per month (https://voice4lync-us.jajah.com/pricing/plan-details/8a617b03-2ef6-45f4-9f7f-be72357b17ff)
3. 30-day trials are available for both Lync Plan 3 and for JaJah Voice, so you can try it out without the 12-month commitment
This is a giant leap forward in making Lync Online as attractive as Lync 2010 on-premises, and a great opportunity to get all the benefits of Lync over a traditional PBX environment without having to incur the costs of on-premises deployment.