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Conversation Red Number in Skype For Business That Won’t Go Away

I have had this issue for ages, but could not find any answer for it on the internet that did not involve resetting Skype for Business or other complex stuff when in fact the answer is so easy it hurts! Finding it was one of those Duh! moments.

You have this:


Skype for Business shows a red flag in one of the sections that will not go away. In my case it was the Conversation History pane and all the conversations in the view were read!

Then one day in Outlook I noticed the Missed Conversations view in Outlook:


Its a Search View and it was already active for me, but look – it also says one conversation unread. So I scrolled down the list of conversations in Outlook, found the unread one and the issue went away in Skype for Business within seconds.



This issue will probably be true for Teams as well when Outlook Conversation History functionality moves over to that product as well from Skype for Business Online!

Office 365 Skype For Business Online

Skype for Business Meetings Don’t Come With a Telephone Number

Yes, that is correct if you are using Skype for Business Online. When you create a meeting request in Outlook you just get the “Join Skype Meeting” message.

This is because dial-in meetings are an add on to Skype for Business Online and the PSTN Conferencing feature is needed. As long as you are an Office 365 global admin (or billing admin) and have users with the Skype for Business Plan 2 licence you can add this subscription by clicking this link:

Once subscribed and the licence added to the relevant users, those users will get a phone number in their Skype for Business meeting – see more here.

Tolled dial-in conferencing and domestic dial-out conferencing services are both included in the PSTN Conferencing service plan. Although there are no distinct service limits associated with tolled dial-in and domestic dial-out conferencing, Microsoft monitors the service for fraud or abuse and reserves the right to limit use in cases where the service quality might be compromised.

Beginning December 1, 2015, there is an introductory offer period during which international dial-out capabilities are available to customers in all PSTN Conferencing sell-to countries. These customers can use international dial-out conferencing to any tolled number residing in any one of the PSTN Conferencing sell-to countries.

When consumption billing is enabled, toll-free dial-in service will also be enabled.

Cloud PBX off Office 365 PSTN Skype For Business Online unif unified messaging Voicemai voicemail

Creating a Phone System In Office 365 in Ten Minutes

I have been invited into the Skype for Business Cloud PSTN preview in the UK and so I though I would jot down a few comments on how easy it was to configure and get a working telephone line and full PBX without doing more than a few clicks of the mouse in Office 365 Admin Center!

Step 1: Purchase Licences

To have a telephone number in Office 365 you need to purchase at either one of the following licences. Each user that you want to assign numbers to need a valid licence – some users can have one of the licences below and others the other licence. You do not need both licences for one user:

  • E5 licence
  • Skype for Business Cloud PBX licence

Step 2: Assign the correct licence for telephone service

Once the correct number of licences have been purchased you need to assign them to the relevant users. So in the admin portal assign the user either an E5 licence or the Skype for Business Cloud PBX licence. If they have an E5 licence already then the Skype for Business Cloud PBX licence is not needed as E5 contains Skype for Business Cloud PBX licence already.


If you assign both E5 and Skype for Business Cloud PBX licence then you will get the following error on clicking save:


That is not a particularly good error message though! It means you don’t need both licences. The error reads “We couldn’t replace products for everyone you selected. The list below explains who couldn’t get updated and why.”

Step 3: Assign the payment licence for telephone service

You can do this as you do Step 2. This is to assign the Skype for Business PSTN Domestic and International Calling licence


Step 4: Assign telephone numbers to your Office 365 tenant

You need one number per user and at the time of writing you can have a US or UK number. You can get a pool of numbers in advance of allocation, but these direct dial numbers (DDI) are not sequential. To do this number pool allocation go to the Skype for Business admin pages and click the new Voice link on the left:


From the top menu in the Voice area you can choose the following (phone numbers|port orders|voice users|emergency locations):

Before you assign users numbers you need to get the phone numbers and set emergency locations. To get the phone numbers click the + icon. You can have a number per licence.

Select your country, region and area code as shown


In England you can currently get numbers in the following area codes:


No Oxford number here yet, so I choose City of London on the region page to get an 0203 number. If you select Scotland as the region there is Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can request new area codes by raising a support ticket – instructions on what the ticket should contain are in the link at the top of this page.

Enter the number of numbers in that region you want and click Add.

You will get the following:


You can add more and then click Acquire Numbers. You can also click Show Numbers and select or remove any of the provided options you may not want before you click Acquire Numbers. You have 10 minutes to acquire the numbers.


The numbers you acquired are added to your list and shown as unassigned. You can delete numbers you don’t want from here by selecting them and choosing Delete


Step 5: Set emergency locations

Click Emergency Locations in the top menu and add a location for each user of the service. Typically this will be the office, though if you are a company of remote workers this is a more long winded process. Addresses need to be validated and I have found that new postal codes in the UK at least 18 months old will not validate. You cannot assign an emergency location that you cannot validate.

Step 6: Assign numbers and emergency locations to users

Click Voice Users on the top menu and select your users. Users will not appear here until around 1 hour after they are licenced. You can see below that we have both Cloud PBX and Cloud Connector to connect an on-premises phone system to Skype for Business Online.


Click a licenced user and click Assign Number


The number of available telephone numbers and emergency locations are shown


Click Save when both values are filled in. The popup will close when completed.

For a given licenced user with a number you can now change or remove that number and change their emergency location


Other than that you are done.

Step 7: With the end user

Skype for Business client will show a dial pad and you can make and receive calls on your personal number. Voicemail will be stored in your Exchange Online mailbox


From the voicemail icon in the Skype for Business client the user can change their greetings and set up voicemail. Clicking “Set up voicemail” takes the user to which is currently the wrong page and searching for voicemail in the options dialog returns a link that goes nowhere.

The “Change Greeting” option allows you to do as it says and you need to record a greeting and accept it using the Skype for Business dial pad as shown. You can also use the number keypad on your computer as well.


When an incoming call arrives via your new number a popup will appear in the bottom corner of the screen identifying the caller if you have their caller ID saved in your contacts:


Clicking the picture will answer the call. Ignore will send it to voicemail and options will allow you to text the user back or forward the call to your mobile phone. More permanent call forwarding options can be set in the Skype for Business client such as always forward or set simultaneously ring Skype and another number.


Office 365 PSTN Conferencing Skype For Business Online

Bulk Enabling PSTN Conferencing

Once you have trialled and configured PSTN Conferencing with a few users you may roll it out much wider. This blog post contains the steps to do that using PowerShell so you can licence and enable your users for Skype for Business Online PSTN Conferencing very quickly.

Generate a User List

Create in Excel a list of users to licence by email address. Name the head of the first column “SIPAddress” (without quotes). Currently you cannot set a PIN during the enablement process, a PIN is set randomly and returned to you when the user is configured. If later this functionality arrives then add a second column called PIN and use the following formula in the next row to create a random four character PIN: =TEXT(INT(RAND()*9999),”0000″)

If you want a longer PIN change 9999 to the correct length and also 0000.

Finally, if the user is not licenced for anything in Office 365 already add their country code as the last column and name the column UsageLocation.

Save the file as a CSV file. It will look like this:


Licence The Users In Bulk

Connect to Azure Active Directory with PowerShell. Once connected you need to get your licence details, which are unique to your tenant. To do this run:

Get-MsolAccountSku | Format-Table AccountSkuId, SkuPartNumber

The first column in this returned list is referenced in the command to set the licence as [tenantname:AccountSkuId].

Locate the line that contains MCOMEETADV. It will read tenantname:MCOMEETADV and then MCOMEETADV. Before running the import of the CSV file containing all your users to licence, ensure you replace [tenantname:AccountSkuId] with the correct value for your tenant. Your value will be [tenantname:MCOMEETADV] with of course your tenant name instead of tenantname.

Import your CSV file to a variable in PowerShell using the following with the correct path instead of the suggestion I make:

$PSTNUsersToLicence = Import-CSV “C:\PSTN Conferencing\UsersForPSTNConf.csv”

Then run the following block of code. It will read the CSV file and licence each user for PSTN Conferencing. Ensure you have enough available licences on your tenant before you run this cmdlet block:

ForEach ($PSTNUserToLicence In $PSTNUsersToLicence) {
    Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName $PSTNUserToLicence.SIPAddress -UsageLocation $PSTNUserToLicence.UsageLocation
    Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName $PSTNUserToLicence.SIPAddress –AddLicenses [tenantname:MCOMEETADV]

Enable PSTN Conferencing For Users In Bulk

Once the users are licenced you can go and assign the Microsoft conference bridge to them. You need to use remote PowerShell for Skype for Business Online for this.

If this is the first time you have set up Skype for Business then select your default number on the Microsoft Bridge page of the Skype for Business dial in conferencing admin portal. Ensure your PIN length is correct and your requirements set on Microsoft bridge settings page.

Then run the following if the users are assigned a third-party conferencing provider:

ForEach ($PSTNUserToLicence In $PSTNUsersToLicence) {
    Enable-CsOnlineDialInConferencingUser -Identity $PSTNUserToLicence.SIPAddress -ReplaceProvider

If the users do not have a conferencing provider already then it will licence them correctly even though you have used –ReplaceProvider. If they have a provider already it will fail if you dont include ReplaceProvider, therefore always include this value.

With the above cmdlet, the user will get assigned the default conference number in your default country. If they are located in different countries then add the ConferenceNumber column to the CSV file and provide the correct conference number from the Microsoft Bridge page in the portal. To assign the number in the CSV to the user add -ServiceNumber $PSTNUserToLicence.ConferenceNumber to the end of the Enable-CsOnlineDialInConferencingUser cmdlet.

Each users settings and PIN will be returned to the screen for you – save these if you want to. Each user will get an email with their conference provider and PIN automatically.

Office 365 PSTN Conferencing Skype For Business Online

Skype for Business Online PSTN Conferencing and Office 365 Business Subscriptions

At the time of writing, it is not possible to add a PSTN Conferencing licence to Office 365 Business subscriptions – or at least that is what the portal shows:


Here you can see that PSTN Conferencing is not an available add-on.

But it is possible to add these licences if you know the URL that will take you to the correct page. If you are logged into the Office 365 portal and visit then you are allowed to add Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing and once purchased to add it to users with licences that Microsoft do not sell it with.

In my case I successfully added PSTN Conferencing licences to an Office 365 Business licenced user and I was able to do the same for an Office 365 Enterprise E3 user who gets their licence via the partner / action pack free subscription (you can add PSTN Conferencing if you are a standard E3 user, just not if Microsoft have given you free licences).


Within minutes the Skype for Business admin portal was available again (it disappeared from the Office 365 portal after the licences where purchased) and then I was able to change the conference provider from a third party to Microsoft within the hour.

After adding the PSTN Conference subscription to the portal I was nicely informed in the portal that I did not have a compatible subscription underneath the licence:


This does not seem to stop me using the product though! The link for compatible licences takes me to which shows that I need Office 365 Enterprise E3 or Office 365 Enterprise E1 or Office 365 Enterprise E4 or the standalone Skype for Business Online (Plan 2). Of course the interesting thing about this is that the Office 365 Business subscription contains the “Skype for Business Online (Plan 2)” component, and the users I assigned the licence to have this component