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CPaaS meaning & more

Communications Platform-as-a-Service

What is CPaaS?

Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) solutions include voice, messaging, 911 access, and other communication-focused APIs. These APIs allow developers to quickly and easily integrate calling, texting, and other telecommunication functions directly into applications or software services. On the back-end, these APIs are typically supported by VoIP networks to get calls and messages from one user to another. To put it simply: they can give virtually any internet-connected device or application telephone functionality.

CPaaS is entirely cloud-based and software-driven. It caters to application developers and product owners who need to tap into exciting digital and mobile features without having to build or locate any of the expensive (and complicated), physical network infrastructure. Communications APIs eradicate the need for users to communicate within channel-based silos for instant messaging, web conferencing, text messaging, voice calling, and more.

What CPaaS is not

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PaaS: Platform as a Service

Technically CPaaS is a platform, so this is a larger category that CPaaS could fit into, but isn’t specific enough to nail down what type of platform.

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SaaS: Software as a Service

Technically CPaaS is a software also, so (just like PaaS) this is a larger category that CPaaS fits into, but isn’t specific enough to nail down what type of software.

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UCaaS: Unified Communications as a Service

The unified communications (UC) space is dedicated to providing a one-stop platform already designed for businesses to access phone services, video, call recording and more. CPaaS is more focused on a build-your-own approach, allowing custom uses for individual communication tools.

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CCaaS: Contact Center as a Service

Although the contact center (CC) space also enables multichannel communication via a single cloud-based platform, CCaaS is all about customer communication, whereas UCaaS is more about internal collaboration, and CPaaS is about building a customized solution.

How does CPaaS work?

How does CPaaS work?

A CPaaS offering can consist of a combination of REST APIs, developer support, sample code snippets, documentation, and forums that let any developer incorporate communication-enabled features (such as voice calling & text messaging) directly into applications. Most companies also offer software development kits (SDKs) and libraries for building applications on different desktop and mobile platforms.

Think about social applications used everyday like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and chatbots. Now, more than ever, we want faster access to our services, viable feedback, and social features. CPaaS providers make it easy to embed communications in any application. And more than that, these APIs give developers and businesses the ability to track and add context to their communications with customers.

What Consumers Need to Know About CPaaS

What consumers need to know about CPaaS

It’s important to select a CPaaS partner that will deliver the right functionality, with the quality your users expect, at a cost that doesn’t affect your bottom line. That’s true whether you’re creating your embedded communications strategy, or developing business applications that need to go the distance in today’s fast-paced technology arena.

Not every API provider offers the exact same functionality. Voice and messaging typically come standard, but it’s important to know exactly what features you’ll need both now, and into the future, so that you can choose the most robust feature set for your business needs. API providers that are also network carriers like Bandwidth can offer more APIs for number management functions such as bulk porting, placing calls, and sending messages. Some providers also offer API-based 911 emergency routing, video conferencing, or verification services, which can be rarities among the CPaaS players in today’s market.

Benefits of SMS

Examples of CPaaS providers

API providers

These are the pure-play software companies like Twilio, Plivo, and Nexmo. They’re partners to many different types of businesses, but ideal for startups that require quick speed to market with out-of-the-box solutions, have lower network traffic volume, and have simple telecom requirements. They’re a good choice for software engineers with no telecom background, but not ideal when requirements include the ability to scale big, get volume pricing, create highly customized features, or if hands-on dev support is a requirement.

API providers who are also network owners

These are companies like Bandwidth that started out as network owners and added APIs along the way. These providers, often referred to as “business-grade CPaaS” providers, appeal to a broad category of users including business product owners, software developers with no telecom background, and engineers with a telecom background. Because they own the network, they’re able to offer fast speed-to-market, access to a large phone number inventory, quality voice and messaging services, and more insight into call routing than other types of CPaaS providers.

What about the other telecom giants?

The traditional telecom carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Level 3 offer telephony services, like voice, messaging, and phone numbers, but they are not considered CPaaS providers. Carriers don’t typically partner with developers because they offer limited or no APIs, are more bureaucratic in their operations, and have much longer time-to-market cycles. They’re a good partner to operations or tech professionals who have a deep understanding of telecom since they offer access to mass telephony, good cost and routing control, tons of phone numbers, and SIP or traditional switch infrastructure.

Understand the difference

Both pure-play API providers and API providers that own a communications network let you access the most in-demand aspects of telecom with just a few clicks of the mouse. However, the pure-play software companies cater mostly to the quick-moving dev who doesn’t require much (or any) hands on support through the stages of development. Depending on the complexity of your project, you may require more support infrastructure than document libraries, GitHub snippets, and developer forums. The API/network carrier combination (or “business-grade CPaaS”) providers tend to offer more dedicated support because they’re set up to handle both SMB and enterprise customers.

Benefits of SMS

What to consider when choosing a CPaaS provider

  • What features do you require? Basic voice and messaging services are a typical offering for all providers, but some also offer multimedia messaging (MMS), video calling (WebRTC), enriched messaging (RCS), group messaging, 911 connectivity, number management APIs for purchasing additional numbers, porting from carrier to carrier, and more.
  • Do you simply need quick access to phone numbers for a few thousand users in a particular local area, or do you need an unlimited nationwide supply?
  • Do you need control over your call routes to optimize for quality or cost? Some CPaaS network providers have options that do the work for you to optimize for quality, cost, or both. Other vendors aggregate with their partner networks and may have limited visibility or control over quality and cost-based routing.
  • What kind of support structure do you expect? Do you have a support SLA that needs to be considered?
  • Does your provider let you balance call quality versus costs? Sometimes you need calls with perfect, crystal-clear clarity. Other times, managing costs is more important than being able to hear a pin drop on the other side. A provider that lets you balance those needs for your different use cases is putting you in control.
  • How much does scale matter to your business? When you think about the future, look for a CPaaS provider that can scale for the volume you’ll require with a cost structure that supports your business’ needs.
  • Does the provider offer a trial? Being able to get into the dashboard and test out basic tasks can make a huge difference. Basic tasks can include:
    • Sending a message and making a call
    • Searching for available phone numbers
    • Managing call recordings
    • Setting up a conference call

How are businesses using CPaaS providers

Many companies are leveraging CPaaS providers because they remove the need to own hardware. CPaaS providers also deliver simpler, quicker, and more cost-effective access to the calling and texting functionality businesses need to build better user experiences and customer engagement.

Communication APIs bring businesses lots of value for everyday interactions, such as:

Is Bandwidth a CPaaS provider?

Yes. As one of the only CPaaS providers that also owns a nationwide all-IP voice network, Bandwidth provides a suite of APIs for voice, messaging, and 911 access throughout North America that are scalable and flexible to fit your businesses needs. This gives our current and potential customers the ability to leverage our network and APIs to build out their communication service needs.

What are the benefits of using Bandwidth as your CPaaS provider

Bandwidth’s CPaaS solution delivers enterprise-grade solutions with higher quality voice and better insights on message deliverability. You also get access to an industry-leading dashboard for number management tasks like buying and porting numbers from one provider to another.

Our industry-leading support means you’re never on your own. With in-depth support articles and a self-guided portal you never have to wait for business hours to get help, and our team of support experts are never more than a phone call or email away, working to resolve issues ahead of SLAs 24/7/365.

We built our communications API platform to allow you to cut out the middleman. With Bandwidth you get access to enterprise-grade APIs paired with a carrier-grade nationwide network, all from one vendor. That’s why companies like Google, RingCentral, Microsoft, Rover, and more trust Bandwidth to power their communications needs.

CPaaS provider FAQ

What are the benefits of CPaaS?

There are a lot of benefits of CPaaS, namely it is ideal for good customer service, easy to integrate with pre-existing apps, customizable and scalable–all while being cost-effective. Learn about more common benefits below.


CPaaS enables businesses to pick and choose whatever features you want. Need voice chat but don’t want to pay for video calling? CPaaS has that level of customization so you can save money and build the communication platform that fits the needs of your business.


If you change your mind and decide that you need video calling after all, CPaaS makes it easy for you to update your systems. This flexibility goes both ways: you can add and remove APIs and integrations with little to no fuss. This means you don’t have to worry about changes in the industry or in client needs because you can always make adjustments.

Customer service

CPaaS enables you to have real-time communications with your clients. You don’t need multiple phone numbers or browser windows. You can do all your talking from the comfort of your own system.

Pre-existing app integration

CPaaS makes it so much easier to integrate with whatever apps you have. CPaaS primarily uses APIs, so it’s made to make integration seamless.

What’s the difference between CPaaS and UCaaS?

UCaaS, or Unified Communication as a Service, is similar to CPaaS in that UCaaS and CPaaS are both cloud-based.

The two services differ in that CPaaS users must build or select API solutions, whereas UCaaS integrates everything into a single communication platform.

This means that UCaaS can’t be directly integrated into an application like a CPaaS solution, but instead has to be used alongside pre-existing apps.

Why would a company pick a UCaaS solution over a CPaaS platform?

A UCaaS solution is tempting because it’s simpler. Where you miss out on the flexibility of CPaaS because you can’t add and remove APIs as you choose, UCaaS is more straightforward and easier to handle. UCaaS is better suited for companies that want a one-size-fits-all solution, whereas CPaaS is best for those who want that extra level of customization.

What are common use cases and examples of CPaaS?

CPaaS enables companies to take an omnichannel approach to their communications. Here are a couple ways CPaaS can boost your business:

Fraud prevention

CPaaS platforms make it easy to add an extra level of security, be that through one-time passwords (OTP) messages or other authentication APIs to verify user identity. Since data security is becoming more and more important, having heightened levels of protection with two factor authentication 2FA or multi-factor authentication (MFA) are of interest to e-commerce companies, and of course any businesses focusing on healthcare or finance.

Appointment confirmations

CPaaS makes it easier to send appointment reminders and confirmation texts. This ability to message current customers massively improves customer retention and reduces no-shows.

Private and secure messaging

Need to message patients about protected health information? Need to securely deliver and receive credit card information and make customers feel safe? CPaaS can help with that. It’s easy to find an offering for HIPAA-eligible messaging for healthcare providers and private messaging for other organizations.

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