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Focus On
July 2000


The Global IP Fax Environment


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.

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.

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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