The death of the fax, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated. While traditional fax services are declining, there are still more than 40 million fax machines in service around the world generating billions of faxes every year. And Fax over IP (FoIP) services are actually on the rise, with analysts predicting double-digit growth through 2016.
Like its similar-sounding cousin in the telephony world, VoIP (Voice over IP), FoIP is driven by a desire to reduce costs and increase efficiency through IP-based communications. But having a VoIP service in place doesn’t make FoIP a fait accompli. IP networks introduce new issues for fax-based communications including packet loss, jitter and latency. Voice communications, of course, face similar issues in an IP world, but have the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to help mitigate those issues. Fax services require a different protocol, T.38, to ensure stability and quality of communications in an IP network environment.
The move to VoIP has its obvious upside—e.g., lower costs, better integration through Unified Communications—but what are the benefits of FoIP? There are four reasons why most businesses make the move:
1) You can finally get rid of those bulky fax machines.
FoIP doesn’t require a standalone fax device; it can work with your desktop or laptop, or directly from applications such as Microsoft Office or Google Apps. That means you can send and receive faxes right from wherever you are without walking to the fax machine, loading paper, managing paper jams, etc… in other words, all the stuff that made fax machines onerous in the first place.
2) You don’t need to lease PSTN lines anymore.
SIP trunks are considerably cheaper than leasing PSTN lines; they’re also more flexible when it comes to provisioning capacity in your wide area network (WAN) because you don’t need dedicated capacity for each office. Moving to FoIP means that you can cut the cord on dedicated PSTN lines for fax communications and consolidate your voice, data and fax using a SIP service provider.
3) You can manage and secure fax communications more easily.
Faxes can contain highly confidential information and therefore are subject to industry regulations and requirements (e.g., HIPAA, PCI DSS) around security and consumer protection. With FoIP, you can centralize the management and security of faxes in your enterprise so you don’t have to worry about the individual security of every fax machine in the office.
4) You can extend fax capabilities to everyone in your enterprise.
With FoIP, enterprises can integrate fax capabilities into their business and communications applications (including email) so every employee can send and receive faxes at any location and on a variety of devices. Untethering the fax from the physical machine actually extends the value of faxing in the future.
Now that you have the facts about FoIP, you may be wondering what the right way is to get started. You could start with the leading FoIP solution on the market today, RightFax from OpenText. RightFax is available as a server-based solution or as a secure hosted service, and allows enterprises to easily unify their voice, data and fax communications over IP. RightFax is powered by Dialogic’s Brooktrout SR140 fax software, so you know it delivers high performance and reliability at high densities.