Glossary

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)

What is CPaaS?

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions include voice, messaging, 911 access, and other communication-focused APIs that 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. In the simplest plain English: they can give virtually any internet-connected device or application telephone functionality.

CPaaS is entirely cloud-based and software-driven—catering to application developers and product owners who need to tap into today’s most exciting digital and mobile features without having to build or locate any of the 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.

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 (voice & messaging) directly into applications. Some 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, chatbots, preventive care, etc. Now, more than ever, we need (or 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 in their own fast-paced worlds.

What Consumers Need to Know About CPaaS

CPaaS is becoming the strongest business model in the telecom industry. The world is headed towards digital transformation and now, companies are able to pick and choose which solutions fit best with their platforms.

When you’re creating your embedded communications strategy or developing business applications that need to go the distance in today’s fast-paced technology arena, 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.

Not every API provider offers the exact same API functionality. Sure, 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. The API providers that are also network carriers will typically 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 IM chat which can be rarities among the CPaaS players in today’s market. 

Different Types of CPaaS Providers

  • API providers-
    These are the pure-play software companies like Twilio, Plivo, and Sinch. They’re partners to many different types of businesses, but ideal for startups that require quick speed to market, 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.

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 most 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 setup to handle both SMB and enterprise customers.

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.

FAQs When it Comes to Choosing Your CPaaS Provider

  • What features do you require? Basic voice and messaging services are a typical standard offering for all providers, but some also offer picture messaging (MMS), video messaging, group messaging, 9-1-1 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 the flexibility of choosing or designing your own call routes to optimize for quality or cost? Some network providers will offer true customization or predesigned routes to make it easy to control costs or quality.
  • What kind of support structure do you expect? Do you have a support SLA that needs to be considered?
  • Is quality of concern to you? Working directly with a carrier means more directly connected calls—no hopping around via third-party network vendors—resulting in a higher quality call.

How are Businesses using CPaaS Providers

Many companies are tapping into CPaaS because it removes the need to own hardware, and delivers simpler, quicker and more cost-effective access to the calling and texting functionality businesses need to build sticky applications with better user experiences and customer engagement. Communication APIs bring these businesses lots of value for everyday interactions, like having your doctor text you appointment reminders, your bank or credit card company texting you security codes for log-in, or clicking a link from a mobile app to call a support representative if you’re experiencing any issues with your internet, not to mention being able to tap into video conferencing, web-based applications to chat, transcription for speech-to-text, 911 call routing and more.

How to Get Started Working with A CPaaS Provider

Start a free trial:

  • You won’t know what it’s going to be like working with a CPaaS provider until you’ve peeked under the covers. Once you’ve done some initial research and found providers you think meet your needs, it’s time to sign up for some free trials. Most CPaaS providers will give you a login and let you explore their dev tools, document libraries, sample code, and more with absolutely no commitment. That makes it pretty easy to play around with the merchandise before you make any big decisions.
  • Once you’ve got your free login, create a sample app. Get a free number to test your app, check out each provider’s voice and messaging features, and make sure the options are adequate (or better) to meet your needs.

Ask the right questions:

  • Does the provider have APIs for everything you want to do? Every CPaaS will offer some standard calling and texting functionality; but, things such as number purchasing and porting, video conferencing, and MMS (picture messaging) are sometimes more limited or specialized depending on the business.
  • What kind of support does the provider offer? Is it more of a DIY environment where you’re finding answers through documentation and a dev community—or do you also have a dedicated resource you can call on for help? Different applications and businesses require varying levels of support. It’s important to factor your specific support requirements into the equation when evaluating providers. 
  • When you think about the future, can the CPaaS scale for the volume you’ll require with a cost structure that supports your business’ needs? Depending on your volume and your growth plan, you should think ahead here.
  • Think about your own customer SLAs—can the provider support your needs when it comes to network availability and uptime? Do they have reference customers that give you confidence in their product? 

Dig into the developers console and explore core features and functionality each provider offers, including:

  • Sending a message and making a basic call 
  • Searching for available phone numbers
  • Manage call recordings
  • Set up a conference call 

These are the steps you should take before you select the best CPaaS for your business, but what’s it really like working with a CPaaS provider? Keep in mind that someone, somewhere, will need to actually write some code. You should check for code samples and example applications that demonstrate how the building blocks of the API are assembled. Everything should be easily accessible and organized in an intelligent manner. 

The most important step in getting started is to dive on in!

How Bandwidth is Involved with CPaaS

Bandwidth operates as a platform that provides CPaaS. This gives our current and potential customers the ability to leverage our network and APIs to build out their communication service needs. As the only CPaaS provider to own our own nationwide 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.

What are the Benefits of Using Bandwidth as a CpaaS Provider

With Bandwidth’s CPaaS offering, we deliver business-grade solutions with higher quality voice, and better message deliverability. Not to mention number management tasks like buying and porting numbers from one provider to another, while allowing custom solutions and cost control.

End users demand real-time communications and customers deserve a reliable CPaaS provider who can provide smooth migration, cost efficient rates, and scale to meet the needs of the business as it grows. At Bandwidth, we built our Communications API Platform to cut out the middleman while bringing incredible communication services to our customers. We support some of the biggest service providers and vendors in the world like Google, RingCentral and more.Ready to see how we can help you?

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