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July 09, 2012

SIP Forum Reports on the State of IP Fax

By Rich Steeves, TMCnet Managing Editor

Let’s face it; any piece of technology is only good if it completes the task for which it is designed. In the case of a fax solution, it needs to be able to transmit the entirety of a document to the receiving device, whether across the PSTN or as IP fax solution.

Now that thousands of individuals and companies are transitioning to IP communications, this means many providers are using SIP technology to create and control sessions. Unfortunately, the interoperability between and among these communications networks is not seamless, so there exists an organization, the SIP Forum (News - Alert), dedicated to making interoperability a future imperative. Within this organization, there is a subgroup devoted to IP fax – the FoIP Task Group.

The task group was formed during the FoIP Interoperability Workshop in 2008, and the first version of the group’s Problem Statement was published in 2009. It dealt with the inherent flaws in the system, as fax technology was based on the T.30 protocol, which was established in 1980, and even IP fax is based on the T.38 protocol, which was even developed prior to widespread Internet implementation. When fax is folded into VoIP and unified communications solutions, problems may arise.

Recent work by the SIP Forum FoIP Task Group has been completed with the goal of smoothing out some of the bugs related to IP fax. The first concern is technology that can identify a call as a fax transmission and route it properly. This is obviously the first and one of the most important steps in the process. One proposed solution to this issue is a “media feature tag (News - Alert)” that will be applied to contact headers, and may be a standard feature sometime in the near 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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Edited by Jamie Epstein

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