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Microsoft 365 Common Area Phone

Sometimes you might want a Phone located in your lobby, or in meeting room. These phones are typical use cases for “Common Area Phone”!

There is a license SKU available in Microsoft 365: Common Area Phone (MCOCAP) The price in Germany is about 6,70 Euro per month and device (80,40 Euro per year and device), so basically the same as the Microsoft 365 Phone System.

You get the following components as part of this SKU:

  • Microsoft 365 Phone System (MCOEV)
  • Microsoft Teams (TEAMS1)
  • Skype for Business Online Plan 2 (MCOSTANDARD)

Common Area Phone option in Microsoft 365

Sounds fine to me, I have a couple of test devices (native Teams and some 3PIP-qualified devices) available, so I decided to do some more tests with it.

First you should create a dedicated Policy for Common Area Phones:

# Now assign the Policy
Grant-CsTeamsIPPhonePolicy -PolicyName $CommonAreaPhonePolicy -Identity ''

This will remove the Calendar, and in the example above the search capabilities are also removed. This might become handy, for publicly accessible phones! But It’s up to you and your use case for the Common Area Phones.

Now you can assign the new Policy to one or more Common Area Phones:

# Now assign the Policy
Grant-CsTeamsIPPhonePolicy -PolicyName $CommonAreaPhonePolicy -Identity ''

OK, now you can sing in with the Phone. And now I started to wonder how I should use the newly provisioned phones!

No way to assign a phone number

I wasn’t able to assign a phone number, you will need to assign a Calling Plan first! OK, the cheapest one around is Microsoft 365 Domestic Calling Plan 120 min (MCOPSTN_5), but this will be an additional 61,20 Euro per year and device! Not that cheap if you want to use the Microsoft 365 Phone Systems.

Calling Plan

If you have your own SIP Trunk connected via direct routing, the Common Area Phones will be enough. I don’t have an SBC connected to this tenant, so this isn’t an option.

No way to assign communication credits

If you try to assign any Communications Credits (MCOPSTNC), the process will fail! You need to have a Calling Plan assigned, or at least Microsoft 365 Audio Conferencing (MCOMEETADV) assigned to use them. But the Microsoft 365 Audio Conferencing (MCOMEETADV) option isn’t enough to assign a Number to the phone.

If you run the Microsoft 365 Phone Systems and want to use the Common Area Phone to let unknown users or visitors place some phone calls (My use case is calling a cab or place a call to an external help desk) you should consider the following:

  • Common Area Phone (MCOCAP) - 80,40 Euro per year and device
  • Microsoft 365 Domestic Calling Plan 120 min (MCOPSTN_5) - 61,20 Euro per year and device

That will be 141,60 Euro per year and device, plus the invest for the Phone itself.

Not cheap! Or to be honest: Way to expensive! I would decide to take a totally different approach: There are devices on the market, that uses a SIM card and can be configured as Common Area Phone, they are not that expensive and a cheap mobile contract (or even a cheap pre paid account) will do the job here. I would go with a solution like this! Much, much, cheaper.. Yes not integrated, but very flexible!

Why I think It’s to expensive: The Common Area Phones I know, never used 120 Minutes per Month. Why pay for something that I would never need?