Ask Your API Provider About Their Carrier Network
- 06 Jul 2020
Working with an API provider to integrate voice and SMS communications functionality into apps and websites can help companies seamlessly connect with customers. However, not all communications platforms that offer API integrations provide the same capabilities.
After looking at platform features, pricing, API documentation, and the user experience, companies need to dig deeper to assess the quality of an API provider’s carrier network. Why? Because the carrier network is one of the factors that most affects voice quality and message deliverability.
At first glance, having connections within a large number of markets globally might make the provider appear to have a strong carrier network. However, carrier connections are not a commodity. Carriers have varying levels of coverage, reliability, quality, and service, and not all platforms have the infrastructure and technology to deliver a consistently high quality of service.
That’s why businesses should look at the components behind a carrier network, including:
- The quality of the underlying carriers
- How the underlying carrier relationships are established
- The network infrastructure of the communications platform
- The technology layer of the communications platform
To understand whether potential API partners have the right components in place to deliver consistent quality, businesses need to ask these five questions:
1. Do you work directly with local in-country carriers or via larger global carriers?
API providers that work directly with local in-country carriers can minimize multiple hops. Plus, they can directly assess the quality of each carrier and build relationships with them so they can quickly troubleshoot issues. In contrast, using only larger global carriers could put the communications platform several degrees away from the end network operator, which can increase call latency and make it difficult to get the root cause of network and call quality issues.
2. How do you assess and monitor the quality of the carriers you work with?
Having direct connections to local carriers can make it easier to assess and monitor quality thanks to the first-degree nature of the partnerships. Still, businesses need to make sure that their API providers have mechanisms in place to assess and monitor quality on an ongoing basis. For example, an API provider can use in-country physical test nodes to assess communications quality via these carriers. These physical devices simulate end users to test call and SMS quality in real time, so API providers can quickly spot issues and resolve them.
3. Do you have built-in redundancy in terms of multiple carrier connections and load balancing?
Even with quality carrier connections, outages can still occur, so businesses should look for API providers that have built-in redundancy by partnering with multiple carriers in each market where available. A strong communications platform should also have the technology to automatically load balance and switch carriers entirely if need be, due to carrier failures or an overload of traffic.
4. How does your underlying infrastructure and technology support connections to high-quality carriers?
An API provider should have dedicated PoPs in strategic locations to minimize hops, rather than relying on inefficient routes that can create lag time during calls. For example, suppose a provider uses a PoP in Hong Kong to connect all traffic in the Asia-Pacific region. In that case, a user making a domestic call within Australia would get routed through Hong Kong, and that extra distance would add noticeable latency.
Companies should also assess whether API providers have the infrastructure and technology to support carrier connectivity. Some providers use route blending, which blends high-quality local carriers with cheaper aggregators that use lower-quality routes, which can lead to inconsistent call quality. Look for an API provider that has an automated quality-based routing engine, which prioritizes the best available routes instead of trying to cut corners to save money.
5. How do you detect and resolve issues in your network?
Finding out whether an API provider has direct connections to carriers provides a clue into whether they can quickly detect and resolve issues, but companies should further question how an API provider identifies issues and how they surface the data to you so you can monitor the overall health of your voice calls.
A platform’s technology needs to be capable of analyzing network activity to spot issues and adjust in real time. Suppose a call lasts five seconds and then gets placed again; that could indicate poor call quality, as the participants had to reconnect after the first attempt. An API provider’s routing engine should be able to identify these types of issues and automatically adjust call routes.
Having a carrier operations team in place is also crucial. Such teams can help in instances where the technology cannot identify the issue, and strategize solutions directly with carriers.
Find an API provider that prioritizes quality
By asking these questions about carrier networks, technology, and infrastructure, you can find an API provider that consistently facilitates quality connections so that you and your customers can communicate with ease.
Plivo’s commitment to carrier quality makes it the best Twilio alternative. With strategically placed PoPs across six continents, latency-free connectivity, consistent deliverability, and optimized routing across our global carrier network, we’ve supported companies in every industry as they integrate communications capabilities into their web and mobile applications.
To learn more about the importance of carrier quality and what businesses should consider when choosing a communications platform, download our white paper “The Carrier Network: What Powers Quality in Voice and SMS APIs.”