Telephony is the broad term for technology that provides telecommunication services. It includes technology used to transmit voice, fax, or data between parties through land-line, internet, or satellite service providers. For organizations that use Okta Workforce Identity to manage employee profiles, application access, and provisioning, telephony provides the foundation for using SMS text messages or voice calls to a smartphone or telephone as part of multifactor authentication or account recovery.

For organizations that use Okta Customer Identity, telephony is an important service offering because it enables the organization’s partners, resellers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers to authenticate using SMS text messages or voice calls. In particular, telephony enables organizations to support the needs of consumers that generate revenue for the organization and who are most likely to interact with the organization using a smartphone or telephone service.

As an Okta administrator, you can use telephony—SMS and voice—as part of multifactor authentication of user identities, for password recovery, and for enrollment of devices. When you configure SMS and voice for multifactor authentication, you can select and customize certain attributes—such as phone number, short code, and the text or voice message—to tailor the customer experience or comply with laws and regulations appropriate to the country where you operate.

Basic use cases for telephony

There are several scenarios for sending an SMS text message or a voice call to an end user's phone. For example:

  • To issue a challenge that requires a response from the user to verify an authenticating factor.

  • To enroll a device for multifactor authentication by verifying that the phone is in the possession of the user who will be authenticated.

  • To authorize a password reset.

  • To authorize an account unlock.

For more information about configuring multifactor authentication, see Multifactor Authentication.

Before you configure telephony

Before you configure Okta to use telephony for authentication, account recovery, or device enrollment, be aware that SMS and voice are not supported for all countries and that there are costs associated with using SMS or voice. The costs, capabilities, and regulatory issues associated with telecommunication services can vary widely depending on the countries where calls are placed. If your organization supports an international workforce or international customers, you should check for any regulatory requirements in the countries where you have workers or customers.

Related topics

Configure and use telephony

Customize your telephony service provider

Regulatory compliance

Prevent or mitigate telephony-based fraud