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UCaaS and CPaaS are two popular types of business communication software. While both technologies enable VoIP calling, video conferencing, web messaging, and SMS, they use different infrastructures.

Let’s dive into the differences between UCaaS and CPaaS.


Compare best providers of UCaaS and CPaaS



UCaaS vs CPaaS: What is the Difference?

UCaaS provides a readymade team collaboration app, while CPaaS provides individual APIs for teams to customize their application or website.

UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) is a complete software application that combines voice, video, and team messaging into one dashboard, accessible on desktop or mobile. CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) is a communications service that uses APIs to provide individual communication capabilities–like voice calling, video conferencing, SMS texting, and more.

What is it? Team-collaboration app unifying multiple channels Individual communication APIs for separate channels
Main Communication Channels
  • VoIP calling
  • SMS texting
  • Video conferencing
  • Team messaging
  • VoIP calling
  • SMS texting
  • Video conferencing
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Mobile push notifications
Essential Features
  • Multichannel dashboard
  • IVR menu
  • Ring groups
  • File sharing
  • Bulk texting
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Marketing automations
  • Call transcription
Pricing Style Monthly subscription per user
  • Voice: Per-minute
  • Messaging: Per-message
  • Readymade–requires no coding or setup time
  • Advanced communication features
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Choose individual channels
  • Use your custom application
  • Easy to scale



What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud-hosted communication software that unifies voice calling, SMS, internal team messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration features. Users access these features through the app dashboard on desktop or mobile.

The app dashboard unifies these communication channels and features in a side-panel menu. Users can see teammate availability, send 1:1 chat messages, and create channels to share files and react with emojis.

UCaaS providers double as VoIP providers, offering virtual phone numbers from area codes around the country or globe. Make and receive calls directly from the app, with call controls, conversation logs, and voicemail. Set up IVR menus, ring groups, and call queues to route inbound calls. This abundance of features and channels is part of why the UCaS industry is expected to maintain a 13.9% annual growth rate through 2032.


What is CPaaS?

CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) is a communication technology that offers APIs for companies to implement communication capabilities into their apps.

CPaaS APIs provide the code for particular communication capabilities:

  • VoIP telephony
  • Live chat
  • SMS texting
  • Email
  • Video conferencing
  • Social media messaging (WhatsApp, FB Messenger, etc.)
  • Chatbots and IVA

Developers use these APIs to install code into your app or website, enabling new channels and functionality. Meanwhile, CPaaS providers host the telecommunicate network and data centers. When your staff uses these communication channels, such as calling or sending a text, the data travels from your app, through your CPaaS provider’s network, to your customer.

CPaaS provides documentation and software development kits (SDKs) that help your developers implement the code in multiple programming languages. In addition to channels, providers offer advanced capabilities like push notifications, two-factor authentication, virtual phone numbers, marketing automations, and more.

Since providers charge per use, your company can choose individual channels and features for your app. This flexibility has really caused the CPaaS market to take off in recent years, as it’s expected to have a 30.4% annual growth rate through 2028.


UCaaS Pros and Cons

UCaaS is a multichannel team collaboration app that’s easy to set up, supports remote work and scaling, and provides advanced features. However, it lacks customization and may lead you to pay for features you won’t use.

UCaaS Pros

  • Easy setup: Ready to use within minutes–just sign up, assign a phone number, and you can access the dashboard
  • Scalable and flexible: Requires an internet-connected device, no other hardware. Companies can easily add and remove users based anywhere and support a remote workforce.
  • Advanced features and channels: Combines dozens of features for advanced functionality–IVR and call routing, call queues, real-time analytics, call monitoring
  • Improved collaboration: Supports team collaboration with video features like interactive whiteboards, chat, breakout rooms, and waiting rooms. File sharing and custom ring orders help users streamline communication.

UCaaS Cons

  • Inefficient pricing: Bundled channels and features may lead you to pay for features you won’t use, especially if you just want a particular channel
  • No customization: Comes readymade, so you can’t customize the dashboard, channels, or features
  • No integration with your website or app: Does not integrate channels and features directly into your website or app, limiting the touchpoints you offer to customers
  • Learning curve: Advanced features and digital interface can pose a learning curve for new users


CPaaS Pros and Cons

CPaaS lets you customize your app with the features and channels you want. However, the API implementation process requires a developer and can involve some frustrations.

CPaaS Pros

  • Use your custom app: Integrate channels and features into your proprietary app and website, using these as customer touchpoints
  • More choice: Choose exactly the features and channels you want, avoiding paying for extras
  • Workflow automations: Integrate advanced features and channels into your company’s software stack and workflows
  • Cost and feature efficiency: Per-use pricing structure can end up saving you money, compared to the UCaaS per-month model

CPaaS Cons

  • Requires a developer: APIs require an experienced developer who can integrate the functionality into your app
  • A limited number of features: Installing and paying for individual features usually means you get fewer features than UCaaS offers
  • Can be costly: If you have very high call or messaging volumes, CPaaS can cost more than UCaaS
  • Maintenance and errors: Since your staff is responsible for integrating the APIs with your code, you may run into installation frustrations or issues when you want to update the site’s code


How to Choose Between UCaaS and CPaaS

UCaaS provides a readymade team collaboration app with multiple communication channels. It works well for teams that don’t already have an app or developer. Unified communications is also a good option for teams focused on internal collaboration, who don’t prioritize using their website or app as a customer-facing touchpoint.

CPaaS APIs provide particular channels and features, which your developers can add to your website, app, and workflows. It’s best for teams working on a proprietary app or website to use as a customer touchpoint. CPaaS is also good for teams that prioritize flexibility and customization.


Who Should Use UCaaS

  • Companies seeking team collaboration: Unified communications apps bundle several key team collaboration channels–VoIP, SMS texting, team chat, and interactive video meetings. Those seeking a complete collaboration platform should choose a UCaaS system.
  • Those seeking a complete phone system: UCaaS systems include a full cloud-based business phone system. Many offer routing features, call queueing, call monitoring, and analytics.
  • Businesses without an app or developer: Since UCaaS comes in a complete app for desktop and mobile, it makes a convenient option for teams without a programmer
  • Remote teams that plan to scale: UCaaS is accessible on any internet-connected device, with unlimited access to virtual phone numbers


Who Should Use CPaaS

  • Companies with a custom app or website: CPaaS APIs must be integrated into an application or website, so teams should have at least one of these touchpoints to use it
  • Businesses with an experienced developer: Integrating CPaaS APIs requires programming, so companies using CPaaS should have an experienced developer
  • Those seeking particular communication channels: CPaaS lets you pick the particular channels you want. If you want specific channels without having to bundle multiple channels, CPaaS offers an efficient option.
  • Companies looking for marketing features: Many of today’s CPaaS providers offer excellent tools for marketing campaigns–such as workflow automations, templates, and rich messaging services


Top UCaaS and CPaaS Providers

I have tried dozens of UCaaS and CPaaS platforms, looking for those with the best features and use cases. Here are my top picks for today’s best UCaaS and CPaaS platforms.


Top UCaaS Platforms:

  • Nextiva: Best for a user-friendly and simple collaboration app
  • RingCentral: Most comprehensive team collaboration app
  • Zoom Phone: Best cloud phone system
  • GoTo Connect: Most comprehensive routing options
  • 8x8: Best for teams that make international calls
  • Grasshopper: Best simple phone system
  • Vonage: Best for teams that rely on SMS
  • Dialpad: Best for advanced AI features and analytics


Top CPaaS Platforms:

  • Twilio: Most customizable APIs
  • Bandwidth: Best for insights about calling and messaging
  • Bird: Best for marketing features
  • Kaleyra: Best for automated chatbots
  • Plivo: Best for bulk messaging



Below, we'll answer top FAQS about UCaaS vs CPaaS.