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June 28, 2012

Strong Arguments Exist for Moving to IP Fax

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The introduction of VoIP technology and cloud-based environments has put pressure on other devices to evolve with the times. Advancements in fax technology were the next logical progression. Fax services are still an integral part of many organizations because of their ability to securely transmit confidential information. For that reason, they are widely used in the healthcare, financial, and legal industries, among others.

However, a new method of electronic fax, known as IP fax or fax over IP (FoIP) has emerged. IP fax, according to this Telecom Reseller (News - Alert) post, allows part of a transmission to be sent via the organization’s IP network while the rest is sent via regular phone lines (PSTN). However, IP fax should not be confused with Internet fax, which simply allows a company to e-mail its materials to a third party who will do the faxing for them.

IP fax services are not difficult to implement, yet some organizations are still slow to adopt this communication method. This could be due to common misconceptions regarding how IP fax works or a rise in popular belief that faxing information is antiquated. Contrary to popular belief, fax services are still important, and the implementation of IP fax does not require a brand new backbone in order to operate. Actually, it is fairly simple and cost effective to make the switch.

IP fax can be administered over existing VoIP networks or a fax gateway can be used in the absence of VoIP services. By implementing FoIP, savings are realized in that there are no longer bulky fax machines to maintain. A FoIP server is much more cost-effective to operate than a traditional fax server. Cutting down on the need for paper and fax machine supplies will also put money back into the budget.

In addition, businesses will realize savings from reducing other resources such as time and energy. Productivity will improve because the time spent going back and forth, sending and receiving paper faxes is more than what it takes to send information via FoIP. The organization will also experience less downtime by freeing up PSTN resources. Finally, switching to IP fax services will reduce power consumption, thereby resulting in energy savings.

There is a trend in technology to move toward integrating devices and services together to offer a Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC) platform. Switching to IP fax is one step forward in making that transition. If an organization has already made the switch to VoIP, the addition of FoIP services will only serve to increase virtualization.

For those organizations that don’t have VoIP already, there are still other options to help them streamline operations and transition to FoIP, such as implementing SIP trunking coupled with a fax gateway.

Regardless of which method is used, making the switch to IP fax should be a quick and painless process that saves a lot of time and money in the long-run, while helping to integrate the organization with technologies of the future.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.

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