Microsoft Teams gets new Advanced Communications add-on: What education customers can expect from this new license

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Are you ready to take your communications up a notch? Microsoft has you covered, with the announcement of a new add-on to Microsoft Teams: Advanced Communications.

As of Aug. 1, 2020, education customers looking for an enhanced and scalable communication experience can obtain the Advanced Communications add-on SKU for any Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription.

How is Advanced Communications different than regular Microsoft Teams? What does this add-on require? Let’s dive into these questions and more.

How does Teams with the Advanced Communications add-on compare to Teams alone?

The Advanced Communications Teams add-on builds on existing Microsoft Teams meeting capacities and expands on the current limits.

Here are the main differences between Teams and Teams with Advanced Communications:

Advanced Communications lets Microsoft Teams users organize and conduct meetings that are larger, more customized (by driving standardization across meetings), and more integrated, including connecting calling and adding meetings to your workflows.

Benefits of Advanced Communications

With larger attendee capacities, longer limits on event duration, and an increase in the number of simultaneous events, you can reach more users – and in a timeframe that better suits your needs.

The enhanced tools in the Advanced Communications add-on allow you to better manage your communication policies. For example, you can choose to monitor, track, and analyze data from your users’ devices. As part of this new add-on, you can also integrate compliance recording.

In addition, Advanced Communications can integrate with a contact center solution to help you address a range of communication needs.

How is Advanced Communications licensed?

The Advanced Communications add-on licensing is calculated per user, per month, and is only required for the meeting organizers.

Meeting attendees will need to be licensed with Teams. However, they will not be required to have the Advanced Communications add-on to experience the additional features as a meeting attendee.

The Advanced Communications Teams add-on is available to academic customers through the Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) program. EES is an annual subscription program that requires organizational standardization on an Education Platform Product and a minimum of 1,000 education qualified users.

Academic customers must qualify for the EES program to take advantage of this new add-on. The Advanced Communications add-on is not available through the Open Value Subscription for Education Solutions (OVS-ES), the Open Academic Program, or the Academic Microsoft Products and Services Agreement.

What are the prerequisites for Advanced Communications?

Advanced Communications is an add-on to Office 365 and Microsoft 365 plans that include the Microsoft Teams Service. As such, you will need to have one of the following plans to qualify:

  • Office 365 Plan A1
  • Office 365 Plan A3
  • Office 365 Plan A5
  • Microsoft 365 Plan A3
  • Microsoft 365 Plan A5

Once you verify that you have one of these plans, your IT administrator will need to flip the switch on Teams and do additional configuration work, such as updating firewall policies, to ensure employees can fully use Microsoft Teams.

One important thing to note: In the Office 365 Plan A1, Microsoft Teams has been turned off by default, so your IT administrator will need to turn it on.

Are more features coming down the line?

Currently, Advanced Communications offers live events support for as many as 20,000 attendees, 50 concurrent events, and events up to 16 hours per broadcast.

Later this year, Advanced Communications will offer additional features, including Interactive Teams meetings for up to 1,000 attendees (and as many as 20,000 view-only attendees) and a custom branded meeting lobby.

Temporary capacity increases will vanish without Advanced Communications

For the past few months, Microsoft had provided customers with Education Plans a temporary increase to the standard limits of Teams. Qualified organizations covered with Office 365 A1/A3/A5 and M365 A3/A5 gained complimentary access to Advanced Communications features — live events for up to 20,000 attendees and for durations of up to 16 hours, with up to 50 concurrent events per tenant.

However, as of Oct. 1, 2020, that changed. If you want to maintain these features, you will have to obtain an Advanced Communications add-on license for your meeting organizers.

For more information about the Microsoft Advanced Communications Teams add-on, please reach out to your dedicated SHI sales team or contact SHI.