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I wanted to highlight some welcome news about the Skype for Business Online PSTN conferencing service that was announced late this summer, and discussed in greater detail during several of the deep-dive sessions at Microsoft Ignite 2016 this past week in Atlanta, GA. In short, the PSTN conferencing service is getting even better, more flexible, and more secure through the implementation of dynamic conference IDs! Now, on to the details:
Have you ever hosted or joined a Skype for Business Online conference and experienced the !UNINVITED! attendee in the participant list? Maybe you’ve listened in as a few unexpected (and potentially very confused) participants from another meeting inadvertently join your conference? Usually this is observed when back-to-back or concurrent conferences are scheduled by a Skype for Business Online user who has been enabled for PSTN conferencing (whether through the E5 plan, or the Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing add-on license assigned in conjunction with another Office 365 plan). This behavior is caused by the original implementation of static PSTN dial-in conferencing IDs.
Historically, each Skype for Business Online user with PSTN conferencing was assigned a single, static numeric conference ID which was in turn linked to each unique meeting space (e.g. meet URL) created when a user scheduled Skype for Business conferences. This created a “one-to-many” relationship between numeric conference IDs and meeting spaces. This did not pose a problem for conferences scheduled at disparate times of the day, but for those scheduled in close succession, the overlap of meeting space could occur, especially when the meeting was not properly ended by the organizer. Because of this, Microsoft documented this as a known issue for the PSTN Conferencing service.
There is good news! To remediate the less-than-perfect experience encountered by early adopters of the service, Microsoft is in the process of rolling out dynamic PSTN dial-in conferencing IDs to all tenants this fall. This means there will be a “one-to-one” relationship between the numeric conference ID and the meeting space which will eliminate the problem of meeting overlap.
The best part is that the update will be rolled out to tenants (and will apply globally at the tenant level) automatically – there is no specific action needed to get the new functionality activated in your tenant. Of course, any existing meetings scheduled by users will continue to use the organizer’s statically-assigned conference IDs unless updated, while any newly scheduled conference will utilize the dynamic scheme. Options for updating meetings include using the Meeting Update Tool, or instructing users to re-schedule meetings. However, choosing to “do nothing” is also a perfectly acceptable response. If this approach is taken, the static conference IDs will be eliminated from your user’s conferences as recurring meetings expire through attrition.
Finally, what if you decide you don’t want this new feature? What if your organization has a special business requirement, and wishes to keep the static conference ID scheme? Not to worry. The feature can be turned off at the tenant level – Microsoft recommends you contact them to prevent the change from automatically occurring in your Skype for Business Online environment.