With the March 2016 Cumulative Update released, Skype for Business Server sees a new feature coming to PSTN conferences that has been in Skype for Business Online for a while. The ability to dial in to a conference as a presenter without authenticating yourself using your normal Dial-in conferencing PIN number.
This is actually a useful feature, and I know one particular customer of mine will be ecstatic when I tell them this has been released. Often getting users to remember there PIN is a challenge, getting them to remember how to reset it while on the move is even harder. Sometimes, you just want to be able to do your job with the least amount of hassle as possible. There is a valid reason why conferences are secure by default, requiring presenters to authenticate by Extension and / or PIN and why attendees sit in the lobby until admitted by a presenter. It is to keep control of the conference and those who participate and attend. It also enforces proper roles, such as presenter and attendees. You wouldn’t want an attendee to be given presenter privileges in your pre sales pitch to a group of customers for instance.
However, in reality, the majority of conferences do not always require such control. Consider the scenario where all users will be dialling in from the PSTN to just talk, none of the good stuff from Skype for Business meetings, plain old speak. Let’s say these are internal conferences too. Adding the complexity of authentication just annoys end users, no matter how valid a reason we as consultants have.
Now users have the power to decide whether to require PIN authentication or not.
To enable this feature you must perform some simple back end administration
- Firstly, you need to be running Skype for Business Server, not Lync
- You will need to apply the March 2016 Cumulative Update to all Front End Servers (if you have previously applied Nov 2015, then no updates are required to Edge servers) Download the CU here
- Open PowerShell and type the following command
- You will notice a new parameter AllowAnonymousPSTNActivation
- This parameter will be set the FALSE by default
- Change this setting to TRUE by issuing the following PowerShell command
Get-CsDialInConferencingConfiguration | Set-CsDialInConferencingConfiguration –AllowAnonymousPSTNActivation $True
- You will need to restart the conferencing attendant service, or wait for the service to refresh before this will come into effect
This provides the functionality for users to choose whether to allow unauthenticated activation of their conference via PSTN dial-in. However, they will need to choose to activate this.
- When scheduling a meeting in outlook, or using Meet Now in the Skype for Business client, choose Meeting Options
- Change the setting to bypass the lobby to Anyone (no restrictions)
After this when users dial in to this conference they will be given the opportunity to authenticate, but if they wait, they will be prompted to speak their name. After this, they will join the conference as a Presenter even if they do not have a Skype for Business account, or are not even from your organization.
Use this with caution and understanding.
To give you an idea of the difference here is a recording of the default behaviour when dialling into a conference. Please note the only key inputs are for the conference ID
And here is a recording of a conference that is enabled for anonymous PSTN activation. Please note the only key inputs are for the conference ID
Mark is an Independent Microsoft Teams Consultant with over 15 years experience in Microsoft Technology. Mark is the founder of Commsverse, a dedicated Microsoft Teams conference and former MVP. You can follow him on twitter @UnifiedVale