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October 22, 2008

The Basics of Internet Fax

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributing Editor

 

Internet fax involves using a Web interface or e-mail inbox to receive fax messages. This article explains basics of how the process works.
 
To receive a fax using the Internet, it is first necessary to sign up for an Internet fax service; the provider acts as an intermediary between the sender and recipient, and allots a unique fax number to which faxes are sent. Such services aren’t free, but they cost less than traditional fax because there is no phone connection charge associated with them — just a monthly subscription.
 
Internet fax is becoming popular among businesses, but many users still depend on conventional fax machines as well. This situation creates confusion among users regarding whether it is possible to receive a fax using an Internet fax service if the document was sent from a traditional fax machine. It is indeed possible to do so.
 
Internet fax, as mentioned above, works in conjunction with the fax service provider. The users accesses faxes through an online interface, or by e-mail. If a fax is sent by a traditional fax machine using a phone line, the fax provider converts each document into a TIFF or PDF file and sends it to the recipient as an e-mail attachment. If the sender also has an Internet fax service, the document is sent directly from one e-mail account to another.
 
Thus, it is possible to receive faxes either from a traditional machine or from an Internet fax system. The two cases are explained below.
 
  • Document sent by traditional fax machine: Fax Machine  — > Phone line  — > Fax gateway  — > Internet/e-mail
 
  • Document sent from an Internet fax system: Internet/e-mail  — > Fax gateway  — > Internet/e-mail


Internet fax offers many advantages over traditional fax. Since the system uses Internet, the service can be accessed anytime anywhere there is an Internet connection. Internet fax is convenient, fast and offers more privacy.
 
In order to take full advantage of Internet fax, it is necessary to choose a service provider. Packetel (News - Alert) is one example. The company offers several service plans for users who wish to receive fax documents via e-mail. Packetel’s offering involves delivery of an unlimited number of incoming faxes per month, with no per-page charges. The service does not require software installation. Packetel recently introduced an alert system to let users know about a new fax message. Faxes can be received in either TIFF or PDF format.

The Internet has simplified many business tasks, including fax.
 

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

 

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke

 

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