What is CPaaS?

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

What is CPaaS?

Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) is a cloud-based service that allows developers to access real-time communications APIs.

What does CPaaS do?

  • Enables developers to integrate real time communication features directly into their programs without having to maintain the necessary infrastructure, thus saving money
  • Enables developers to implement voice chat, video chat, and VoIP directly into their applications
  • Ensures that all real time communications channels remain securely encrypted
  • Includes a wide range of functions above and beyond direct person-to-person communication, such as video enabled helpdesk support, and live authentication services
  • Provides 24/7 live support for developers
  • Enables higher levels of personal connection with customers than previously possible —direct voice and video call functionality is no longer the purview of just a few applications (Skype, telephone, WhatsApp) but available to every enterprise over the cloud
  • Allows more options to connect with customers in a world that is increasingly focused on digital connections and remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic

How departments can use CPaaS

customer support worker on phone to client

CPaaS enables developers to build customer service software with real-time communications technology (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Customer service

CPaaS brings two innovations to the customer service space—rapid response time and a wider range of options for customer contact. Immediate response, even via chat, is only possible through real-time communications applications. By outsourcing these, businesses can contact their customers immediately via a live agent, without maintaining the expensive infrastructure normally required to do so.

Customer service teams also benefit from CPaaS as they now have a wider range of options for interaction with customers. Real-time communication via video chat, voice call, text message, and online chat can all be made available to clients in an affordable manner.


According to research by the CRM provider Salesforce, customer expectations from salespeople and firms are rapidly evolving. These days, 52% of customers expect a personalised experience when dealing with a company, and 74% use multiple channels to start and complete a transaction.

Having multiple communication channels between sales representatives and clients, like email, VoiP callin,g and video chat, is essential to business success, and CPaaS technologies can help businesses achieve this affordably.

Through CPaaS, customers can be given access to a dedicated sales representative, with options for voice, text, video, and online messaging, at a mere fraction of the cost it would take to develop these functionalities in house.


Executives in a business meeting

Clear, transparent pricing is available from most CPaaS providers

Most CPaaS providers offer clear and transparent costing to their clients. This is a benefit for finance teams at reporting time, as they do not need to estimate the costs from multiple capital investments in real time communications infrastructure—instead all communications costing is clearly communicated to finance teams by the CPaaS provider.


Digital interviewing and virtual authentication are both processes that use real time communications technology. Traditionally, HR would have to rely on a costly relationship with a third-party provider to conduct digital communication with would-be hires and authenticate said individuals remotely.

By switching to a CPaaS subscription it is possible to construct an in-house application for HR to use, with the complex and infrastructure-heavy technologies outsourced to the CPaaS provider. This can be more cost-effective than employing the services of a third party for communication and authentication.


Real time communication stacks are costly to implement. They require advanced programming knowledge, digital infrastructure, and specialised experts with the ability to set up and maintain said infrastructure. With a CPaaS subscription, IT departments can integrate these services directly into your organisation’s digital ecosystem without having to maintain the associated infrastructure.

Moreover, most CPaaS providers also provide tech support services for their products, meaning that IT can outsource any tech issues to the CPaaS provider instead of having to hire an in-house expert.

Features and benefits of CPaaS

A rendering of wireless mobile communications

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Access to affordable communications infrastructure


iPaaS technology value matrix 2022

Simplify integration processes, reduce costs, enable business users, and redeploy developers to more advanced projects


The technology that CPaaS provides to developers is expensive to implement and maintain, and often requires the services of specialised experts. Outsourcing this infrastructure to a CPaaS provider allows businesses access to real-time communications technology that would have otherwise been prohibitively costly.

Moreover, access to this infrastructure is scalable to the user’s needs. If a certain real-time technology is no longer useful, a user can simply cancel their subscription. A business that has already invested in the hardware, software, and people required to implement this technology in house cannot achieve this level of flexibility.

More avenues for customer contact

Customer expectations for contact options are evolving as technology becomes more advanced. The COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in increased use of digital communications media across the globe.

As a result, access to affordable real time communication technology is more important than ever. By leveraging CPaaS, businesses can stay in touch with their customers through more channels.

Access to experts

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a real-time software engineer is $85,943 (£70,506) in the United States. Hiring such an expert to develop a full real-time communications stack is outside of the budget of most small businesses.

CPaaS providers have on-staff experts ready to assist with any technological issue. Most providers offer 24/7 customer support by default, as 24/7 availability is a key feature of real-time communications technology.

Transparent costing

CPaaS providers offer reports and analytics bundled into their subscriptions. This provides businesses with active feedback on their communication technologies, including detailed expense reports broken down by technology type.

CPaaS is also implementing machine learning into its analytics processes. These AI-driven analysis tools are designed to learn your business’s communication patterns and create a cost-optimised solution tailored to you. This results in transparent, easy-to-understand costing backed by analytics that saves you money.

Rapid communication 24/7

CPaaS solutions are especially important for businesses that need to maintain rapid, 24/7 communication with their customers. Vehicle rental businesses and storage locker providers are great examples. Customers will frequently use these services outside of business hours and may need rapid assistance during those times. CPaaS ensures 24/7 uptime, enabling businesses to provide their clients with immediate live assistance.

How much does CPaaS cost?

CPaaS pricing is not consistent between providers. Pricing is typically a variation of pay as you go. However, that is where the similarities end. CPaaS provider Avaya, for instance, offers several pre-constructed packages of technologies. Its “Digital” package, with unlimited email, webchat, and text messaging, starts at around £35 monthly. However, customers are also welcome to contact Avaya’s sales team directly and construct their own custom package, fully tailored to their needs, with pricing available on request.

Dolby.io, on the other hand, has a per minute rate for its CPaaS service. Meanwhile, ShoutOut takes a middle-ground approach, offering clients a choice between paying by the minute and by the month.

The one thing that all CPaaS providers appear to have in common is the wide variety of customisation options—regardless of the pre-created packages they advertise. Users are always welcome to pick and choose features and pay only for what they need.


Answers to the most frequently-asked questions about CPaaS.

What is the difference between CPaaS and UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is an example of Software as a Service (SaaS). UCaaS users have access to a fully functional communication application suite provided over the cloud. CPaaS, on the other hand, is an example of Platform as a Service (PaaS), because it does not provide fully functional software to users. Rather, CPaaS gives developers access to existing real-time communications tools that they can integrate into their existing applications.

What is CPaaS API?

html code displayed in close-up on a monitor

Real-time communication APIs are at the core of any CPaaS offering (Image credit: Pixabay)

Individual products under a CPaaS umbrella are application programming interfaces (APIs). For instance, a CPaaS suite can offer an API that integrates text messaging into an application and another, separate API to integrate voice calling.

All CPaaS APIs are related in that they are examples of real-time communication programs. These offerings can be as diverse as video calling or 911 emergency call integration, but they will all fall under the real-time communication theme if they are part of a CPaaS suite.

What is the difference between CPaaS and CCaaS?

Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) is a combination of cloud products, analytics, and consulting services that are offered to companies looking to improve their customer service experience. All products and services in a CCaaS offering are specifically contact center related and can involve some elements of real-time communications software.

A CCaaS service package is fundamentally different from CPaaS, which is simply a platform to provide real-time communication APIs to developers over the cloud.

Is WhatsApp a CPaaS?


Goodbye broadcasts, hello conversations

Drive conversations across the funnel with the WhatsApp Business Platform


WhatsApp, being a fully functional communication application, is not an example of CPaaS. Rather, it is software that has many of the same features typically provided via CPaaS.

Until recently, dedicated real-time communications platforms like WhatsApp were the only options available to businesses and consumers, because it was prohibitively expensive to set up and maintain real-time communications infrastructure in-house.

Through cloud-based outsourcing, CPaaS allows businesses to circumvent this problem by enabling developers to build real-time communications features directly into enterprise applications easily and affordably.

What is an example of a CPaaS provider?

There are many CPaaS providers on the market. Our top choices are Ring Central, which provides APIs for voice calling, SMS, messaging, and fax, and Twilio, with its flexible cloud-based contact center solution. Brightlink, Amazon Connect, and MessageBird also made our top five list.

Main takeaways

person holding smartphone in front of graphical network of social media/apps

CPaas provides transparent, 24/7 real-time communication infrastructure (Image credit: Pixabay)
  • CPaaS enables users to outsource expensive real-time communications programs when constructing their applications
  • It enables users to reach customers through multiple avenues including VoIP, online chat, text messaging, video calling, and email
  • CPaaS pricing is highly transparent, with detailed analytics-driven reporting that helps users save money on their communications technologies
  • Pricing models are not consistent between providers, with some offering by minute charges, and others a monthly subscription - all CPaaS services are priced with some form of pay-as-you-go
  • CPaaS providers ensure 24/7 customer support and attempt to maintain 24/7 uptime. This is especially important for businesses that need to have regular contact with their customers through multiple channels outside of business hours, like car rental and self-storage service providers

Further reading

To learn more about CPaaS and which providers are right for your business, read our list of the best CPaaS providers of 2021. For more information, check out our articles on CPaaS: the solution that really delivers for retailers and logistics providers and why Your smart device isn’t all that smart… without CPaaS.

Serguei Solokhine

Serguei Solokhine is an experienced freelance writer specializing in a range of topics, including finance, marketing, and travel.

He holds degrees in both finance and marketing, and boasts five years of experience working in the financial services industry across a range of roles.

Serguei enjoys writing about personal finance and investments, and has published works in several publications, including MoneyVisual, ITPro, Top.10, and TechRadar. He has covered topics such as software as a service (SaaS), CRM, and VPNs for TechRadar in addition to in-depth articles exploring web design, B2B remote desktop technology, and cloud computing for ITPro