The best communication platform as a service (CPaaS) providers offer a robust a la carte menu of application programming interfaces (APIs), making adding communication capabilities to business apps accessible. The APIs typically include voice, short messaging service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS), video, and authentication. However, the best CPaaS providers have other advanced communication APIs like fax, analytics, and webinars.
Most CPaaS companies provide documentation for implementing APIs. Some keep it in a central repository, while others go the extra mile of offering step-by-step onboarding. Included in the documentation are the supported programming languages. If you’re in the market looking for the best CPaaS vendors, consider our top-rated companies:
- Twilio: Best overall for broad API offering
- Podium: Best for text communications
- RingCentral: Best for data analytics
- Telnyx: Best for local phone numbers
- Vonage: Best for video conferencing
- Plivo: Best for voice calling
- Bandwidth: Best for user authentication
Best CPaaS Providers Compared
Best CPaaS Providers
Monthly Starting Price
Inbound local calls: $0.0085 per minute
Outbound local calls: $0.0140 per minute
4.53 out of 5
$249 for three team members
4.50 out of 5
4.39 out of 5
Inbound and outbound local calls: $0.002 per minute + the SIP Trunking fee
4.31 out of 5
Inbound and outbound local calls: $0.0044 per minute
4.16 out of 5
Inbound calls: $0.0055 per minute
Outbound calls: $0.0100 per minute
3.95 out of 5
Inbound calls: $0.0055 per minute
Outbound calls: $0.010 per minute
3.93 out of 5
Twilio: Best Overall for Broad API Offering
*Volume and committed-use discounts are available.
Twilio is first in our list of the best CPaaS providers, offering a wide range of APIs that enable users to easily select different communication features to be added to business apps. Its programmable voice delivers powerful voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) capabilities, such as interactive voice response (IVR), conference calling, call masking, and call tracking.
Meanwhile, programmable messaging lets users send messages to 180-plus countries while complying with global standards. This is useful for sending different types of customer communications, including alerts, promotional offers, and verifications.
Aside from the typical programmable voice and SMS offerings, other APIs include video, email, contact center, social media messaging, authentication, and Super SIM. The latter lets users connect their devices to Tier-1 global networks. For its robust products, Gartner named Twilio as a Leader in the CPaaS market.
Unfortunately, Twilio requires coding know-how to make the most of its APIs. RingCentral is more beginner-friendly and the best choice if you’re new to trying communication platforms. Consider these Twilio alternatives to explore other excellent CPaaS companies.
- Task Router API: Manage work assignments better, be it phone calls, customer support tickets, or leads. With this API’s flexible routing logic, you’ll be able to configure rules to match tasks to specific workers.
- Verify API: Add user verification to your business applications. Send user authentication prompts via text message, voice, WhatsApp, email, or push and silent device approval.
- Conversations API: Build rapport with customers through conversational messaging. Provide customer service or upsell products and services via chat, Facebook Messenger, or Google Business.
Podium: Best for Text Communications
Podium ranks high in our list of the best CPaaS providers, ideal for small businesses using SMS primarily for customer communications. Its API lets users connect their business app to the Podium platform, which enables sending review invitations and surveys via text. When a website visitor engages in your chat tool, the conversation automatically converts to a text thread.
With Podium’s automation, you won’t have to manually send texts. Set the conditions and corresponding actions to prompt the automatic delivery of texts. The best part about Podium is it incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) in its communication capabilities. With the AI Assistant, you’ll generate replies in a few seconds to individual leads, increasing the likelihood of converting them to paying customers.
Unlike other CPaaS providers, Podium follows a user-based pricing structure. Its entry-level plan is costly, priced at $249 per month for only three users. The best CPaaS provider for affordability is Bandwidth, as it has a pay-per-use framework and offers volume and committed-use discounts.
- Contact profiles: Refer to customers’ contact information and recent transactions in one glance. This allows agents to provide personalized information based on critical customer data.
- VoIP system: Accept phone calls and choose the “Note” icon from the call control menu to take notes while on a live conversation with a customer. To send a message, select the “Text” button.
- Topic-based routing: Manage customer inquiries more efficiently by configuring routing rules and distributing queries based on topics. This ensures that only qualified service representatives handle specific concerns.
RingCentral: Best for Data Analytics
*Save up to 33% by paying annually; volume discounts for 50-plus users are available.
RingCentral is the top CPaaS provider for data analytics, offering a specific API for managing communications data. With Data API, you can embed analytics into your business apps and track performance across different platforms in one glance.
Depending on your permissions, you’ll be able to refer to call logs, call recordings, voicemail transcriptions, and meeting recordings. This collection of information lets you spot customer sentiment and service improvement trends.
While RingCentral’s Data API has excellent capabilities, its SMS API doesn’t support international messaging. Top CPaaS companies like Twilio allow users to send texts to customers overseas. If you want to build and maintain rapport with a global audience, Twilio is a great platform option.
- Live transcription: RingCentral Video API records everything said in the meeting, allowing participants to easily revisit important action points.
- Webinar API: Conduct virtual sessions for up to 10,000 participants. Record the webinars and share them with other stakeholders. These video recordings are encrypted, keeping confidential information safe.
- Fax API: RingCentral supports 29 different file formats for fax. Customize your cover page to reflect your brand identity and conceal sensitive data.
Telnyx: Best for Local Phone Numbers
Telnyx is listed among our top CPaaS solutions and is suitable for companies wanting to secure virtual phone numbers. The company offers numbers in over 140 countries, helping you establish a local presence overseas. If you want to keep existing numbers, use FastPort, which automates the internal and external processes for number porting, including carrier identification and data validation. With this, you’ll speed up the process and bulk port up to 2,500 numbers.
The vendor features toll-free numbers and lets businesses provide free inbound calls. In addition, it enables toll-free number porting in more than 50 countries. Since it’s a licensed carrier in 30-plus locations, businesses can count on reliable services. Unfortunately, setting up integrations with Telnyx isn’t intuitive. RingCentral offers more seamless connectivity and works with over 300 apps.
- Twexit API: Migrate existing Twilio SMS codes to Telnyx in just a few minutes. To facilitate the process, you must have an active number on the Twilio portal and a messaging profile.
- 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.
- Number lookup API: Know important carrier and caller information behind phone numbers. This will help create effective outbound calling campaigns, as you can tailor spiels and sales offers according to unique customer profiles.
Vonage: Best for Video Conferencing
Vonage is included in our top CPaaS vendors, especially suitable for companies needing video capabilities in their business platforms. Participants are able to join sessions even without the app. The video API supports 1080p FHD resolution while accommodating 16,000 attendees in one meeting.
The provider’s Experience Composer allows businesses to create highly immersive virtual environments for participants. These sessions can be streamed live on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch, and more platforms through Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP).
Note that when you choose Vonage, its customer assistance requires extra fees. The exact cost depends on the level of support you need. In contrast, Twilio’s customer assistance comes with the service you get, without additional charges.
- 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 artificial intelligence (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.
- Conference calling: Vonage’s Voice API features conference calling, which accommodates up to 200 participants in one session. This allows you to collaborate with many team members regardless of where they are.
Plivo: Best for Voice Calling
Plivo is the best CPaaS vendor for voice calling, given its powerful VoIP capabilities. On top of the essential features like interactive voice response (IVR), call recording, and custom caller ID, it allows businesses to use advanced call controls like call hunting, call whisper, supervisor coaching, and call insights.
Call insights feature the call summary dashboard, which presents call quality metrics. These include latency, packet loss, and Mean Opinion Score (MOS). The call quality feedback API gathers customers’ call quality assessment, giving companies a better idea of which issues should be resolved.
On top of the mentioned features, Plivo’s voice API supports automatic speech recognition, which powers voice search and voice-based forms and surveys. The vendor’s global coverage for voice communications is extensive, spanning over 190 countries.
However, Plivo doesn’t have a video API, a standard tool most CPaaS providers have in their API menus. If your app requires video capabilities, consider Vonage, our top pick for video communications. It also offers a voice API.
- 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.
- 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.
- Intelligent message encoding: This feature spots Unicode characters and replaces them with the equivalent GSM characters, ensuring that the messages are delivered properly.
Bandwidth: Best for User Authentication
*Volume and committed-use discounts are available.
Bandwidth is the ideal CPaaS solution for user authentication, allowing businesses to use their existing number to send one-time passcodes (OTP). This not only improves brand recognition but also enhances customer trust, giving them peace of mind that the OTPs are legitimate. To further boost brand image and customer safety, customize your authentication message, using the language your clients are familiar with.
While Bandwidth is an excellent option for adding user verification to your apps and websites, many users reported difficulties in porting phone numbers. If this is a deal-breaker for you, Telnyx is a better platform, as it has automated the internal and external number porting process, which makes it less complicated.
- Call logs: Bandwidth’s voice API allows users to refer to call records to know more information about previous calls, such as call duration, date and time the call was connected, hang-up source, and estimated cost for the call.
- Emergency API: Connect your customers to emergency services nationwide. Bandwidth’s API 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.
How We Evaluated the Best CPaaS Providers
To compare the best CPaaS providers, we considered the product attributes small businesses take into account when choosing a vendor. Here’s a complete breakdown of those criteria points:
20% of Overall Score
All CPaaS providers mentioned, except for Podium and RingCentral, follow a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme. Podium and RingCentral have 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 and discounts, if any.
25% of Overall Score
The general CPaaS capabilities we included in our evaluation are inbound and outbound SMS, MMS, and customer database. Since many businesses have on-the-go team members, we favored providers offering an intuitive mobile app with a rich feature set.
20% of Overall Score
The advanced tools we looked at were text marketing, customizable API, and VPN. Similarly, we gave more points to vendors offering scheduled messages.
10% of Overall Score
Since not all CPaaS users are tech-savvy, we favored providers that require little to no technical know-how in navigating the platform. We checked their interface and evaluated if it’s simple and intuitive.
10% of Overall Score
The support channels we considered were phone, email, and live chat. We took into account the hours these channels were available.
15% 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Twilio is the leader in the worldwide CPaaS market, representing 24.1% of the market share in the second quarter of 2023. The figure is an increase of 68 basis points from the first quarter. The provider’s revenues exceeded $913 million in the second quarter, which was a 15.8% hike year over year.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based communications tool that integrates different communication capabilities, such as voice, video, chat, and file sharing, in one single platform. CPaaS provides a menu of APIs that enable businesses to add features to business apps.
When choosing a CPaaS provider, consider the following:
- API offerings: Know exactly which communication features you want to add to your business platform and find providers that offer them. It’s also good to settle for a vendor with a wide range of APIs so you can easily access features should you want to integrate more functionality later.
- Ease of use: Gauge your coding know-how and see which platforms accommodate your level of technical expertise. Be sure to consider the CPaaS solution’s supported programming languages.
- Customer support: Learn which channels are available for technical assistance. Some vendors offer onboarding with their team, while others have active developer communities that guide the implementation of CPaaS features.
CPaaS software allows businesses to customize business apps with different communication capabilities, from voice calling and messaging to video and user authentication. However, some providers still stand out for their robust features.
With its broad range of API offerings, comprehensive documentation, and flexible pricing, the best CPaaS provider for us is Twilio. Use this platform to expand the functions of your business website and app. Take advantage of its free trial and start building communication solutions tailor-fit to your needs.