Twilio Communication Platform
Twilio is a communications platform that interfaces the Internet with the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). The “PSTN as a cloud service” model is refreshingly different from the realm of stodgy telephone companies. Most noteworthy, there is no such thing as toll charges! Consequently it costs the same to call a person sitting across from you at Starbucks or on a beach in Hawaii.
Twilio is publicly traded (TWLO on NASDAQ) with annual sales over $300M.
The most exciting thing about Twilio (from a gee-wizz Jimmy Neutron point of view) is the rich set of functionality. Of course there are voice calls, SMS (text messages), and MMS (pictures messages). But furthermore there are cloud services for:
- text-to-speech (English, Spanish, or French)
- real time speech-to-text (100+ languages)
- conference calls (up to 250 callers)
- IVR building blocks
- video calling
- call recording
B2B Cloud Service
Twilio is a B2B (Business to Business) cloud service. The above functions are available to other cloud services, such as the B2C (Business to Consumer) cloud service UberSmartPhone. As well, smartphone Apps and desktop applications can invoke Twilio functions using the REST protocol over the Internet.
In order to use UberSmartPhone, the user first needs to open a Twilio account and purchase a phone number. This is a similar experience to using an on-line store such as Amazon. Credentials are then entered into the UberSmartPhone account and UberSmartPhone takes control of the user selected phone numbers.
A single phone number with all the above features can be rented from for $1/month. Usage charges are under 1 cent/minute for toll free talk time. 1 penny per SMS/MMS. Furthermore there are no contracts. This makes our accountant happy.
Twilio uses a micro-billing approach to charge for its services. Accounts typically carry a credit that is debited very small usage charges in real time. Many of these charges are less than one cent. The user only pays for what they use. When the account reaches a pre-set level (typically $10) the user’s credit card is used to top up to a preset level (typically $20). An email is sent to the user when a top up is performed. This makes it easier to track telephone costs.
We feel Twilio is the future of telephony. Twilio provides a rock solid, reliable, and well supported platform. Developers will be integrating Twilio into all sorts of things over the years to come.