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May 21, 2010

Demystifying IP Fax: Insight Into FoIP Selection and Implementation

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Companies throughout the world are migrating to an all IP environment, but in the process of making this transition, fax communications can often be forgotten. Keeping an analog line for standard faxing is always an option, but not very practical when all other communications are on the same platform.

Instead, the ideal solution is to incorporate fax over IP into the network design. This presents a challenge when decision makers are unsure as to how to select and implement a FoIP solution. To help overcome this challenge, Sagemcom offers a Webinar series: "Demystifying Fax over IP."

On April 21, "Webcast 4 of 5: Checkpoints in FoIP Planning and Development" presented by Matthew Miller from Sagemcom and David Hanes from Cisco (News - Alert) provided an in-depth look at the best methods for implementing FoIP in the enterprise. Here, we'll take a look at a few key points from this presentation. To benefit from the Webcast in full, download the file here.

When implementing a FoIP solution, the project should go through four stages, including initiation, planning, execution and monitor/control. The FoIP fundamentals that must be considered in the process include network considerations and traffic characterization.

In evaluating the network, decision makers must determine how much bandwidth is needed to drive effective fax communications and the necessary Quality of Service (QoS) to derive an acceptable level of user satisfaction.  

Traffic over the network is also important. It is also essential to understand the dynamics involved in both inbound and outbound faxing. Both are needed in the environment, although outbound faxes allow for more control. The FoIP solution must be able to handle inbound faxes according to multiple formats.

An assessment of traffic must also include peak times, document types and required service level agreements. Once these assessments are completed, decision makers are better equipped to make the right choice in FoIP solutions.

Before the FoIP solution can be implemented, IT must consider the capacity and platform of the server, as well as communication capabilities, deciding between SIP or a gateway. Once these elements are taken into consideration, installation can take place.

At this stage, testing and development are an important focus. In fact, the FoIP functional and load test are vital to conduct before the solution is set to go live. If testing is successful, it is always recommended that the solution is rolled out from the bottom up.

Sagemcom suggests implementation start with the lowest risk users and then move its way up through the enterprise. In taking this approach, a failure can be detected early in implementation, preventing an impact on the entire network.

For FoIP planning checkpoints from Cisco's David Hanes, check out the Webcast. Hanes provides key points much like those offered by Sagemcom, along with key implementations from Cisco. 

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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