December 2007 | Volume 10/ Number 12
Eutectics Enables Fax over Skype
An Editorial Series Sponsored By Eutectics
Eutectics, Inc. (http://www.eutecticsinc.com) specializes in the design and development of advanced telephony equipment. They are known for their cost-effective plug-and-play IP USB phones, such as their Internet Power Phone 200 (IPP200) a PC Screen Phone and handset that mounts on the side of a PC ($49.95), the IPP200T Deskset phone ($69.95), the IPP201 Laptop Phone ($49.95), the IPP400 USB Desktop phone with a four-port hub ($79.95), the IPP520 USB Speakerphone ($99.95) and the IPP2000 USB phone adapter ($49.95).
Back in January 2007, Michael D. Lynes, CEO and founder of Eutectics was attending a TMC event, ITEXPO East, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He ran into Mike Coffee, CEO of Commetrex Corp. (http://www.commetrex.com) and they struck up a conversation. Lynes and Coffee immediately 'hit it off', as they say.
Says Lynes, We started talking about Skype. We decided that one of the things missing from the pantheon of things you could do with Skype was fax-over-IP, particularly in the form of Fax-over-Skype. SOHOs and Small-and-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were wary of completely 'going Skype' because they still needed an analog phone line for their fax machine. This lack of a robust solution sending faxes over Skype has prevented widespread adoption of the 'Skype-for-Business' paradigm. If one could send free faxes over Skype by plugging a fax machine into a little box, then both the little box and Skype would be embraced by SOHOs and SME businesses everywhere. In conversation, we began to explore how a product could be developed to address this need.
As it happens, fax is Commetrex's expertise - they offer a well-known T.38 fax-relay software stack - T.38 being the international standard used by PSTN-gateways to send faxes across an IP network, says Lynes. Our expertise is in peripheral devices. We began talking about combining their fax software with our hardware - in particular what would become an upgraded version of our IPP2000, called the IPP2000-FAX.
The Eutectics IPP2000 is basically an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter), an RJ11-to-USB converter that lets you to plug any standard corded or cordless model phone into it, giving your phone the ability to send and receive voice-over-IP calls using such popular PC VoIP clients as MSN Messenger, AIM Phone and many others. The little box supports full button integration, with hookswitch, DTMF dialing, a full 90 Volt ring, and Caller ID to the phone. The challenge now for Eutectics was to re-engineer the IPP2000 into the IPP2000-Fax, so that one could plug either a fax machine or a phone into the port, or use a cable splitter so that both types of devices could share the same device.
We started this project January 2007 with Commetrex and what became NetGen Communications, Inc., a spin-off of Commetrex, say Lynes. We worked on it during the spring and over the course of the summer of 2007. The resulting combination of software and hardware, FaxIP for Skype, won a TMC Innovation Award in June 2007. TMC's Tom Keating spent some time testing it and had some very nice things to say about it. The IPP2000-Fax USB ATA device allows full Skype functionality using any standard analog telephone, and it allows the user to employ any standard analog fax machine to Fax over Skype for free anywhere in the world. We don't know of another product on the market that combines these features. The IPP2000-Fax unit is designed for the traditional SOHO/SME business user who wants to go 'Full Monty' into IP while supporting current user habits and training.
Lynes continues: Commetrex' software runs in the background on your PC. It's an unobtrusive, very minimal user interface [UI], that allows users to seamlessly fax for free over Skype. They provide the T.38 real-time fax-relay software, not a store-and-forward service, which is a key piece here. In fact, the technology is Patent Pending. Release 1 will enable you to fax from Skype-to-Skype for free. Obviously, the caveat is that you're not able to send faxes from Skype to a user on the PSTN. But that will be coming along very soon. We've already contacted several different service provider partners through Commetrex, because they have connections and gateways that will enable us to deliver either PSTN-to-Skype faxing or vice versa, thus eliminating the need for having one of our IPP2000-Fax boxes on both sides of a fax transmission. You'll be able to have a conventional analog fax machine on one side of the call and the IPP2000-Fax on the other.
Overall, the critical value that we're bringing to the table here is something that's missing from the SME/SOHO capabilities provided by Skype today, says Lynes. This box enables SOHOs and SMEs to set up a full office where everybody is using a Skype business account and everybody is managed by one master account. They can do real-time faxing, voice calls and conference calls, all over Skype. So, just by adding this one little piece of equipment - in addition to some of the other devices we make, such as USB phones - and you can staff out a whole small office with this IP technology.
You can also put a splitter on the one port, says Lynes, and have up to three or four devices connected, and the port will still provide 90 volt peak-to-peak ring for those devices. So it has a good amount of 'punch' as far as the amount of current it can drive. Multiple analog phones, or a fax and a couple of phones, or a fax, phone and credit card machine all hung off of one device.
We feel that this technology is of very good value right off the bat, says Lynes. We're talking about less than $100 per unit. We don't have a final price on it yet because we're still deciding whether to bundle the software or sell the software separately. Right now, the hardware cost of the IPP2000 is under $50. The entire bundle will certainly be sold for less than $100.
It's amazing how many small offices run by lawyers and doctors, real estate agents, travel agents, and so forth, rely quite a bit on fax technology. They want to receive and hold a physical piece of paper. Eutectics allows them to modernize a bit, save money, and still keep that paper-to-paper experience and feel.
So, you small and medium-sized enterprise folks, stop worrying about whether Skype can satisfy all of your communications needs - you can now use Skype for fax. Rejoice!
Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC's IP Communications Group.
By Michael D. Lynes, CEO and Founder,
Radio-over IP (RoIP) is one of the newest weapons in the United States Armed Forces high tech armory. This technology is employed to provide tactical field communications and secure Command and Control for our modern war-fighting forces around the globe.
Wikipedia defines RoIP as follows: Radio over Internet Protocol, or RoIP, is similar to VoIP, but augments two-way radio communications rather than telephone calls. With RoIP, at least one node of a network is a radio connected via IP to other nodes in the radio network. The other nodes can be two-way radios, but could also be POTS telephones, softphone applications running on a computer such as Skype phone, PDA, smartphone, or some other communications device accessible over IP.
Modern war-fighting depends heavily on advanced technology. Coordinating among multiple far-flung battlefields and connecting them securely to forward command and control centers is a mission-critical task.
Older communications technology relied on expensive, oversubscribed SatCom (Satellite Communication) uplinks. These channels are often highly contested and are narrowband; sometimes no more than 56Kbps can be allocated from the bandwidth pool. This can restrict the effectiveness of our forces and could potentially be the difference between a successful mission outcome and failure.
Inadequate SatCom resources are being augmented as well as replaced in today's modern Armed Forces by the marriage of two existing technologies, IP (Internet Protocol) and MilRad (Military Radio communications). RoIP is the result of this marriage.
Eutectics has a complete suite of specialized, military grade, rugged USB equipment designed to serve this crucial emerging market. We have worked together with our partners and customers to define the requirements of this specific community and to design and manufacture cost effective and unique solutions to meet those requirements.
Our first product in this area is the IPP200-PTT H250 Handset adapter. This device interfaces a standard military H250 Radio Handset to field HQ Command & Control computers and software. The adapter enables the embedded base of hundreds of thousands of existing military handsets to be seamlessly upgraded into the cutting edge RoIP environment.
Additionally, our latest project, the IPP200-NX, scheduled for release in Q1 of 2008, will provide up to 16 RoIP links per Command & Control Media Server. Using a specialized software suite designed expressly for this project, Eutectics devices will allow the coordination of up to 16 mission-critical MilRad zones through the IP backbone in a secure encrypted environment. The available bandwidth per MilRad zone is virtually unlimited, with flexible IP resources being shared among all theaters.
Eutectics, founded in March of 2001, takes great pride in manufacturing the highest quality USB communications devices available today. We have the largest variety of choices and award winning innovative designs.
Our military line of products is available either directly thru our website or thru our distributors worldwide. We will be partnering with one of the largest providers of Military, Aerospace and First Responder devices in the world to distribute our devices to market as well as announcing strategic partnerships in this area in the next several months. Keep tuned to TMC magazines for future developments.
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