This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
The best communications platform as a service (CPaaS) solutions offer an easy way to integrate multiple communication channels via a robust selection of application programming interfaces (APIs), preferred programming languages, and high-level encryption and authentication. Vendors, however, vary greatly in cost, key features, and ease of implementation. This article summarizes the best CPaaS platforms to help you decide which one to use for your business.
Based on our research of dozens of providers, these are the best CPaaS providers that offer excellent pricing, general features, and niche capabilities:
- Twilio: Best overall CPaaS solution for creating a fully integrated business platform
- Plivo: Ideal for businesses that largely use SMS communications
- RingCentral: Best for businesses that want to enhance video meetings
- Telnyx: Best for calling and texting without breaking the bank
- Bandwidth: Great network coverage benefiting businesses that serve multiple locations
- Vonage: Suitable for managing social media and in-app communications
Best CPaaS Providers at a Glance
Voice (local): 1.3 cents per minute to make a call; 0.85 cents per minute to receive a call
Messaging (local): 0.79 cents to send a message; 0.75 cents to receive a message
out of 5
Voice: 1 cent per minute to make a call; 0.55 cents per minute to receive a call
SMS: 0.50 cents to send a message
out of 5
$44.99 per user monthly (for one to 20 users)
out of 5
Voice: 0.20 cents per minute to make or receive a call
SMS: 0.40 cents to send or receive a message
out of 5
Voice: 1 cent per minute to make a call; 0.55 per minute to receive a call
SMS: 0.40 cents to send a message
out of 5
Voice (domestic): 0.39 cents per minute to make and receive a call
Voice (international): 1.24 cents per minute to make a call; 0.44 cents per minute to receive a call
SMS (virtual phone and toll-free number): 0.60 cents to send a message; 0.55 cents to receive a message
out of 5
Twilio: Best Overall CPaaS Provider for Creating a Fully Integrated Business App
Twilio tops the list of the best CPaaS companies, as it offers a wide selection of APIs and software development kits (SDKs) that make app building easier. Its communication cloud includes a la carte channels easily integrated into your businesses’ apps and tools. These channel APIs include messaging (SMS, chat, WhatsApp), voice, video, livestreaming, and email.
Programmable SMS lets users send and receive global texts. With Twilio’s super network, which includes 1,500-plus tier 1 carrier connections, businesses send messages at any scale. Moreover, you reach customers in several locations worldwide with localized senders in 180-plus countries.
Meanwhile, the voice tool facilitates improved audio communication through call queues, warm call transfers, call monitoring, and call recording. The chat API, on the other hand, features push notifications, chat transcripts, message editing and deletion, and keyword filtering.
On top of these useful APIs, Twilio has robust security features. It uses two-factor and one-time password verification. It has ISO 27001 and SOC 2 certifications and complies with the General Data Protection Regulation.
The only drawback in using Twilio is that you need some level of coding expertise to make the most of its features. Some users reported a steep learning curve in using the tool. If you want an easier-to-use platform for communication campaigns, use Plivo or these Twilio alternatives.
- TaskRouter: Use Twilio TaskRouter to manage work assignments better, be it phone calls, customer support tickets, or leads. With the flexible routing logic, match tasks to specific workers.
- Authy and Verify APIs: These tools secure your communication channels. Authy authenticates user logins and transactions, prompting one-time passcodes. Verify, on the other hand, prevents fraudulent activity via phone verification when someone creates an account on your website or app.
- Autopilot: This is Twilio’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform used for creating bots, IVRs, and voice assistants. It works across communication channels, including voice and messaging.
Not sure if this provider is the right solution? Read our Twilio review to know if it suits your business needs.
Plivo: Best CPaaS Provider for Improving SMS Campaigns
If your business heavily relies on SMS campaigns, then Plivo is the right CPaaS solution for you. This platform has several useful messaging functionalities, including support for GSM and Unicode character formats. This helps businesses communicate in different languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and even emojis and symbols.
Message personalization is possible with Plivo. It has a local match feature, auto-selecting a customer’s local area number for outbound messages, resulting in improved read rates. The sticky sender feature helps increase customer trust, as it uses the same phone number or caller ID across various interactions with the same customer.
Plivo is an MMS API platform as well. It supports various media formats, including JPEG, GIF, emojis, audio, and video, lending a rich multimedia experience to business messages. It provides multimedia storage so that you quickly retrieve and reuse inbound and outbound MMS messages for other campaigns.
The robust SMS and MMS APIs complement the carrier platform solutions Plivo offers. Using the platform’s API and console, businesses buy shortcodes, mobile, and toll-free numbers in more than 65 countries. With a network of 1,600 carriers, Plivo makes it easy for your organization to scale mobile messaging campaigns.
One drawback we found in Plivo is that it doesn’t support two-way conversational chats. If this feature is important to your app build, it’s best to partner with other top CPaaS vendors like Vonage.
- Number lookup: Identify the country a phone number belongs to and improve customer experience. With this feature, you’ll also know the carrier network for a number, preventing fraud and improving routing efficiency.
- Intelligent message encoding: This feature spots Unicode characters and replaces them with the equivalent GSM characters, ensuring that the messages are delivered properly.
- Conversion feedback API: Report successful conversions for two-factor authentication and one-time password SMS messages. This will help Plivo’s routing engine improve message delivery over different carrier options.
RingCentral: Best CPaaS Provider for Enhancing Video Meetings
*Monthly pricing per user for 1 to 20 users
While RingCentral is known for its excellent unified communication as a service (UCaaS) platform (we include it as a top provider in our UCaaS guide), it also offers a CPaaS solution through its Developers platform. It features a full suite of APIs for voice, SMS, fax, and team messaging. Its most notable API is the programmable video API, as it easily combines with voice, SMS, and team messaging. The high-quality videos use industry-standard encryption, allowing users to set passwords and restrict access.
It’s possible for participants to attend the meetings through their browsers, even without the app. As artificial intelligence technologies process meeting recordings, you’ll easily pick up meeting notes and action items.
Another advantage to using RingCentral as a CPaaS solution is being able to collaborate with a strong developer community. The platform has a developer forum, where users ask and answer questions freely. This kind of support is especially important when you’re transitioning to a CPaaS solution. It’s easy to resolve issues and move forward with your app build.
While RingCentral has plenty of impressive features, the APIs are only available in its Message, Video, Phone (MVP) high-tier plans. This means you have to pay more to unlock those programs. If you’re a little conscious about your budget, the next provider, Telnyx, is an ideal option for you. It uses a more flexible pay-as-you-go pricing scheme and offers lower fees per service.
Not sure if you should go for RingCentral’s all-in-one communications tool or its Developers platform? This UCaaS vs CPaaS guide will help you know understand the difference between the two technologies and better decide what to get for your business.
- Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC): This technology allows users to join meetings through their browsers. Even without downloading the app on their devices, they get to access video conferences.
- Live transcription: RingCentral Video records everything said in the meeting, allowing participants to easily refer to important action points.
- Collaboration tools: These include breakout rooms and whiteboards, which effectively facilitate brainstorming sessions in a virtual setting.
If you’re curious about how this software provider fits your business needs, check out this comprehensive RingCentral review.
Telnyx: Best Budget-friendly CPaaS Provider
Telnyx is the best CPaaS provider for you if you’re looking to save money on calls and texts. The provider charges 0.20 cents per minute to make or receive a call, and 0.40 cents for sending and receiving a message. The platform’s expansive tier 1 network makes for excellent call quality and improves message delivery.
On top of the reliability, Telnyx has several useful voice API features, namely text-to-speech, speech-to-text, answering machine detection, call recording, and smart interactive voice response (IVR). Meanwhile, for SMS, the platform provides support for any character set, enables delivery of longer messages, and handles opt-out replies.
Telnyx also boasts a wide selection of local, national, and toll-free numbers. The global numbers are available across 60-plus countries. This, along with the mentioned API functions, makes sending out appointment reminders to customers and managing text marketing campaigns easy.
Unfortunately, some Telnyx users reported a slow response to issues and problems retrieving and creating reports. However, the provider has set up various customer support channels, including hotlines, emails, and live chats, to ensure that users’ concerns are received.
- Twexit API: Migrate existing Twilio SMS codes to Telnyx in just a few minutes. You simply must have an active number on the Twilio portal and a messaging profile.
- FastPort: Telnyx automated some internal and external processes for number porting, including carrier identification and data validation. With this, you’ll speed up the porting process and bulk port up to 2,500 numbers.
- Hosted SMS: Bring your own number into the Telnyx platform as you start SMS and MMS campaigns. Your number remains with the current provider for voice.
Bandwidth: Best CPaaS Provider With Strong Network Infrastructure
Bandwidth is another competitive player in the CPaaS scene, leading particularly in the area of stronger network infrastructure. The provider has its own network, and thus the capability to deliver huge volumes of calls and messages quickly. Moreover, its global communications network connects clients to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) in over 60 countries.
The voice API features conferencing, text-to-speech, interactive voice control, answering machine detection, and recording and transcription. Under the messaging API, take advantage of SMS, toll-free SMS, group messaging, shortcodes, and MMS features.
Unfortunately, some Bandwidth users reported a slow service when resolving issues. Others noted that the number porting process took longer than expected. Consider the top CPaaS company, Telnyx, if you’re looking for a provider with an automated porting process.
- Emergency API: Connect your customers to emergency services nationwide. Bandwidth’s AI provides accurate location information, which is extremely useful for businesses dealing with home security and patient monitoring.
- Group messaging API: Send texts to 10 recipients simultaneously without the hassle. This feature uses MMS technology.
- Call tracking: Monitor and analyze calls more accurately by embedding the voice API’s click-to-call functionality. The API will also gather important insights, such as the time and duration of calls and the caller’s name.
Vonage: Best CPaaS Provider for Managing Social Media & In-app Communications
*To be added to WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing
Vonage is among the best business phone systems in the market today. Known as an all-in-one VoIP and unified communications provider, it also provides a wide range of communication APIs. Its instant messaging API particularly stands out. The Messages API allows businesses to send messages through multiple instant messaging channels from a single endpoint. The channels include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber.
With this API, it’s easy for you to reach out to customers in their preferred channels and, in the long run, cut down messaging costs. Another unique feature Vonage offers is the in-app communication APIs. These include in-app messaging and in-app voice. Talk to customers directly within your apps without unnecessary interruptions in the conversation.
The in-app messaging feature allows sending rich media messages, including images, videos, and even GIFs. This adds to a positive customer experience within the business platform. This emphasis on engaging with customers on their preferred channels and creating a more dynamic virtual brand experience is among the CPaaS market trends dominating the year 2022.
But while Vonage leads the way in these social chat and in-app communications APIs, some users reported that the platform is a bit overwhelming to use at first. For this reason, many recommended reading the documentation thoroughly to become more familiar with the platform. In case you want to explore other top CPaaS providers with instant messaging APIs, consider Twilio and Telnyx.
- Dispatch API: Complementing the Messages APIs, this feature enables the delivery of messages to a different channel in case a message sent via a specific channel doesn’t reach the recipient. When the Dispatch API doesn’t receive a “Read” status, it will automatically send the message to another platform, according to how the API was configured.
- Conversational AI: Integrate AI with the communication APIs to facilitate customer self-service. Vonage’s AI studio is a low-code conversation designer with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
- Reports API: This API gathers all the data from your communication APIs. With this, you easily track customer interactions, recalibrate campaign metrics, and take steps to improve services.
If you’re keen on using this communication platform in your business, let this in-depth Vonage review help you form a more informed buying decision.
How We Evaluated the Best Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)
To compare top CPaaS companies, we considered the product attributes small businesses take into account when choosing a vendor. Here’s a complete breakdown of those criteria points:
25% of Overall Score
All CPaaS providers mentioned, except for RingCentral, follow a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme. RingCentral has a monthly subscription fee. To make a fair evaluation, we put more weight on the flexibility of pricing and considered other important factors, such as free trial availability, cost per service, and discounts, if any.
25% of Overall Score
We took into account the specific API offerings, basic VoIP features, and international calling capabilities. We also assessed how navigable and user-friendly the API documentation is.
25% of Overall Score
We evaluated the providers’ network security, if they provide end-to-end encryption, and third-party security certifications. We also took into account phone number options provided and video calling features, which we believe add more value to businesses’ CPaaS investment.
25% of Overall Score
We considered what users say about each provider. More specifically, we looked into their reviews on the ease of implementation, useful features, and value for money.
With its broad range of API offerings, easy-to-use platform, user-friendly documentation, and flexible pricing, the best CPaaS provider for us is Twilio. Use this platform to expand the capabilities of your business website and app. Take advantage of its free trial and start building communication solutions tailor-fit to your needs.