Business VoIP Featured Article

Hosted Fax Unleashes Full Value of Hosted Business VoIP Services

January 13, 2011

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, Business VoIP

When shopping around for a hosted VoIP service for your small to medium sized business, consider a service that includes hosted or Internet fax as an option, because it will help you realize a better return on investment.

Nextiva’s “Office VoIP” business phone system, for example, offers a hosted fax service that can be bundled in for a minimal incremental cost. Yet the return on investment can be dramatic, as hosted fax is a proven way of increasing employee productivity and reducing operating costs. As such, hosted fax has become one of the most popular hosted business applications.

So how does hosted fax boost employee productivity and help companies cut operating costs? The answer lies in a comparison between traditional fax and Internet fax.

Hosted fax -- not to be confused with IP fax, which in general refers to on-premises fax systems – helps SMBs reduce their communications costs, as it utilizes broadband (i.e. VoIP) as opposed to traditional phone lines -- meaning there is no need to pay for a separate phone line. Thus hosted fax is an ideal solution for companies which send and receive a high volume of faxes, or which send and receive faxes from overseas locations, and are looking to reduce the cost of faxing.

Hosted fax is a great alternative to traditional fax for companies that have not yet migrated to an all-IP network infrastructure – but it is also popular among companies that have already migrated to VoIP, but don’t want to integrate fax into the network due to capacity constraints and the risk of reduced reliability.

In addition to helping SMB’s reduce communications costs, hosted fax solutions also increase employee productivity, mainly by reducing the number of trips each employee makes from their desk to the fax machine each day. The faxes arrive in the recipient’s email inbox, but unlike regular emails, they are secure and verifiable, thus helping companies meet increasingly prevalent compliance regulations. These systems also help companies save on paper costs, as the faxes are delivered to users’ email inboxes as electronic files. Very often these documents never need to be printed. In addition these systems use much less electricity – bear in mind that a traditional fax machine is a mechanical device, with motors and moving parts that consume a high amount of power.  Thus hosted fax is a true “green” business solution.

Hosted fax services also offer several distinct advantages over premises-based IP fax systems: First and foremost, they don’t require any upfront capital investment in new servers or architecture – the managed service is delivered via a “pay-as-you-go” or transaction-based model, which means it can be neatly included in monthly budget or expense reports as a single line item.

Hosted fax solutions also deliver lower ongoing costs because the service provider takes on the maintenance of the system, including software upgrades, equipment replacement and troubleshooting. This reduces the strain on internal IT staff and also helps companies avoid having to use third party support. Other advantages include increased scalability, the ability to send and receive multiple faxes at the same time, and the ability to send and receive faxes from remote locations or even mobile devices.

Nextiva’s vFAX, which was introduced three years ago, is an easy-to-use and affordable hosted fax service that offers great flexibility. You can fax by email, via Microsoft Office, the Nextiva online control panel, or even from your smartphone -- all you need is an Internet connection.  With Nextiva’s fax bridge adapter you can even opt to send IP-based faxes using your existing fax machine.

This reliable and scalable hosted fax service -- backed up by Nextiva’s renowned technical support -- is offered for as little as $5 a month, which is well below what other leading hosted fax providers are currently charging. To learn more about the benefits of Nextiva’s vFAX service, click here.

Patrick Barnard is Group Managing Editor, virtual-pbx, focusing mainly on call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to virtual-pbx e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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