|The Global IP Fax
BY THOMAS CHEN
The growth of IP fax has developed as more people use the Internet and
wish to deliver faxes from their PCs. Although IP fax is cheaper than most
international telephony routes, its ease and accessibility make it an
appealing alternative. Therefore, the business opportunity is to provide
IP fax as an added-value product to customers.
When investigating their alternatives for an IP fax partner, British
Telecommunications plc (BT) sought a partner capable of delivering not
only speed and reliability, but accuracy above the industry standard. With
a seamless global network comprised of 90-plus points of presence (PoPs)
in more than 40 countries, ShareMedia
was selected as BT's partner to supply IP services to their end customers.
The opportunity for BT, by becoming a part of this network, was not only
to execute a rapid rollout of the service, but to limit implementation
costs and resource requirements, thereby establishing BT as a strong
presence in the IP fax market.
THE BUSINESS CONCEPT
Maintaining a worldwide presence through a series of subsidiaries,
equity ventures, and distributorships in Europe, Asia Pacific, and the
Americas, BT delivers a comprehensive multi-local strategy covering
datawave, the IP world, mobile, multimedia, and fixed-to-mobile
convergence. BT's range of dedicated Internet access and IP network
services span multiple continents, and the company supplies some of the
UK's largest corporations, government organizations, ISPs, and
telecommunications carriers with IP services to suit their requirements.
BT maintains a wide range of business communication solutions including
Web hosting, Web site creation, ADSL services, IP network services, and
fax over IP with the BT Fax2Net service.
ShareMedia -- originally named Fax2Net -- offers a complete
Internet-based fax delivery solution through its global IP infrastructure.
Starting with just three nodes in 1997, ShareMedia has experienced rapid
growth over the past three years and currently has more than 90 nodes on
five continents. The name change of Fax2Net to ShareMedia coincided with
the introduction of a global, unified Internet/PSTN communications
infrastructure -- the Universal Messaging Platform. ShareMedia's new
platform enables service providers to offer customizable communication
services that are far more economical than similar services offered by
regional carriers or services that use the PSTN. ShareMedia continues to
market fax services under the Fax2Net brand name.
Realizing the suite of business solutions ShareMedia maintains, BT
expressed interest in ShareMedia's Fax2Net services, and agreed to market
the service to their customers as BT Fax2Net. BT outsources the operation
and management of the service to ShareMedia, and through ShareMedia's
network, BT customers are able to send text and documents from a
personalized, secure Web page to fax recipients anywhere in the world.
BT offers ShareMedia's Internet fax service to its business and home
customers in the UK, Belgium, and Spain, and plans to expand to locations
worldwide in the immediate future. BT outsources to ShareMedia the
operation and management of this service, which allows BT's customers to
send text and documents from a personalized Web page to fax recipients
worldwide. Areas that don't have Internet access or ISP service will be
able to use Fax2Net to send and receive faxes via the Internet thanks to
ShareMedia's seamless information delivery technology.
Using point-to-point Internet delivery over ShareMedia's network, the
BT Fax2Net service offers large bandwidth savings, resulting in lower
operating expenses. In addition, BT Fax2Net provides a variety of fax
services not readily available from traditional telephone carriers,
including automatic retries, fax broadcasts, fax on demand, never-busy
fax, fax to e-mail, e-mail to fax, and fax mailboxes. The Web-to-fax
services offered by BT Fax2Net include the ability to:
- Access the service from any Internet-connected computer without the
installation of special software;
- Gain access through any Internet browser;
- Get instant access to personal phonebooks; and
- Send broadcast faxes and file attachments quickly and easily.
DELIVERING THE SERVICE
ShareMedia is responsible for managing, maintaining, and operating the
network sitting atop BT's infrastructure -- BT need only maintain their
PoPs and customer relationships. In return, BT is given access to a range
of enhanced products which they can choose to offer to their customers,
including an ever-expanding portfolio of point-to-point products and
broadcast fax capability via the Internet. Through this venture with
ShareMedia, BT provides their customers with powerful fax tools and
personal phonebooks from any computer in the world.
"We're always working to provide our customers with innovative,
cost-saving communications services," said James Saunby, BT's New
Internet Products Manager. "We decided to partner with ShareMedia on
BT Fax2Net in response to customer demand for inexpensive Internet faxing.
Based on the customized system that ShareMedia developed for BT, as well
as its proven track record in IP service provisioning and administration,
we feel that ShareMedia is the ideal partner to help us provide reliable
Internet fax service."
BT Fax2Net transforms any PC into a powerful Internet-ready faxing
device, capable of transmitting documents over the Fax2Net network up to
10 times faster than faxing from a traditional fax machine. "Our
Universal Messaging Platform is a one-of-a-kind infrastructure that allows
service providers to offer a menu of cost-effective, integrated
communications options," said Thomas Chen, founder and president of
ShareMedia. "BT's decision to entrust BT Fax2Net to ShareMedia's
Universal Messaging Platform is further validation of the power,
reliability, and reach of our platform."
Thomas Chen is CEO of ShareMedia. Based in Maryland's High Tech
Corridor, ShareMedia is the ASP for communications, offering
Internet-based messaging solutions including unified messaging, IP fax,
and voice mail. ShareMedia's Universal Messaging Platform is
device-independent and supports IP-based content delivery over land and
wireless networks. For more information, visit ShareMedia's Web site at www.sharemedia.com.
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