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Wholesale VoIP Feature Article

Fax Transitions to the 21st Century

May 08, 2017

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While fax machines may bring to mind quaint, out-of-date technology that belongs in a museum along with telegraph and mimeograph machines, there’s evidence that the world still sends a whole lot of faxes (100 billion per year, by some estimates). The difference between today and 1987, however, is that the rolled bits of thermal paper and classic “fax tone” is largely gone in favor of fax over IP, or FoIP.

FoIP represents a large chunk of the global VoIP services market, which is expected to peak at about $140 billion by 2021, representing a CAGR of about nine percent between 2016 and 2021, according to a recent blog post by Allison Boccamazzo writing for VoIP Innovations (News - Alert).

“FoIP is a great option for businesses looking to improve sustainability (just consider that the average American consumes 700 pounds of paper each year),” she wrote. “It’s also faster and more convenient; faxes can be sent anywhere, anytime using any device (a huge perk, considering that almost 80 percent of Americans now own a smartphone).”

For companies still mired in paper, FoIP is a sound investment for simplifying and streamlining operations. The problem, to date, has been that FoIP has resisted the trend towards convergence over IP. Going forward, migration from legacy to next generation networks should help solve the issues inherent in the technology. Cloud-based faxing solutions are on the rise, and these solutions will help bring fax-based communications securely into the modern age.

“Fax over IP (FoIP) has been unreliable in the past but with the T38 fax protocol companies can use their existing voice and data networks to send real-time transmissions with a 99 percent success rate,” according to Telecom Reseller’s Steve Dorsey.

With new protocols for fax technology, users can gain advantages they didn’t have with traditional fa technology.

“You can send and receive faxes from any internet enabled device that you’re using at home, at work, or on the road,” wrote Dorsey. “Plus you can get rid of your costly analog phone line dedicated to faxing and add your multi-function printer or fax machine (connected with an ATA) to have all of your communications on one network.”

Fax over IP is particularly relevant to companies that need to remain compliant with federal regulations for security, such as healthcare providers (who still deal with a lot of paper) or financial services organizations. In fact, experts say that fax over IP is more secure than email.

“Faxing is HIPAA compliant for healthcare data, it is SOX and GLBA compliant for financial documents, and signed documents that are faxed are considered to be legally binding,” wrote Dorsey. “Fax over IP with the T38 fax protocol is a legal document, just like hand delivery because it provides a real-time connection without even a momentary storage of the fax that gives you confirmed delivery with page by page confirmation.”

Modern organizations today need more, not fewer, options when it comes to communications. While we might all strive to live in a world without paper, it hasn’t happened yet (and isn’t likely to in the near future). FoIP technology plus the cloud means companies can an old-fashioned method of communication and bring it into the twenty-first century. 

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