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Microsoft Advanced Communications License

Written by Kieran Mullins 

August saw a bit of a curve ball delivered by Microsoft in the shape of the Advanced Communications License. On the face of it, it delivers a set of features with the promise of more to come later in the year. Live events of up to 20,000 attendees, 50 concurrent events and up to 16 hours continuous broadcast. Later in the year, we can expect the capability to host meetings of up to 1000 active participants and up to 20,000 view-only participants and the option of custom-branded meeting lobbies. So far, so good and decent value as well as only the creator of the meeting or event needs to have the extra license.

The sticking point comes in the two “features” which deliver integration for voice recording and contact centre. Access to these APIs was previously unlicensed, and therefore not charged. From August 1st, however, this functionality is part of the Advanced Communications License which carries a monthly fee of $12 per user. This obviously causes a headache for companies who need to have call recording or contact centre functionality as they still need to purchase the license to deliver the respective functionality. Equally, it puts the recording and contact centre vendors in a difficult situation seeing a major hike in the cost of delivering their services on Teams.

As Code is a vendor of a Teams call recording product, ClobbaVR, which is designed specifically to take the heavy cost out of recording, this seems a significant blow. That said, if customers are seeking to keep native recording costs to a minimum, the cost-effectiveness of ClobbaVR coupled with its simplicity of implementation and management, could make it an even more attractive option.  

There are a couple of peculiarities to the Advanced Communications License which are slightly unsettling. Firstly, there is the timing. If the Teams API for call recording had been chargeable from the outset, customers could have budgeted for additional cost and vendors could have decided on the viability of developing a solution. Then there is the incongruous grouping of the features; it’s true that they all help to deliver advanced communications but a user who requires a contact centre license wouldn’t necessarily be regularly delivering live events of up to 20,000 participants.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Perhaps the monetisation of APIs is now a strategy that could no longer be ignored. Perhaps it heralds a time when Microsoft delivers a broader feature set that is currently being delivered by third party vendors. It will be interesting to see what the vendors next move will be. But, more interesting and more important will be the reaction of the customers. At a time of global employment and market uncertainty, the Advanced Communications License could be a difficult sell. 

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