Despite the relentless advancement of technology, fax machines still decorate the offices of businesses large and small. While many businesses have opted to get their fax machines as part of a multifunction device that provides printing, scanning and fax services, the persistence of faxing seems remarkably quaint in an era of instant communication via text messages, Twitter and Facebook. The ongoing dependence on fax machines makes sense when considering that fax represents a global standard. The fax, however, has entered the digital age with the introduction of fax over the internet, particularly via VoIP.
Voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, provides the same basic function as traditional telephone service. Essentially, it allows users to have real time voice conversations using a broadband Internet connection. Much as traditional faxes use electrical signals carried over phone lines to relay a document, VoIP fax uses digital signals carried over the internet to relay documents.
VoIP Fax Provider
The intermediary in this process is the VoIP fax provider. The provider, very likely the same service that provides a business regular VoIP service, takes responsibility for routing the document, intact, from the original computer to the recipient’s fax machine. Of course, in deference to the widespread ownership of fax machines, many VoIP fax providers also allow customers to use their fax machines to send the fax. What the provider does is handle the conversion of the digital information that you send into an analog signal that the recipient’s fax machine can understand.
VoIP Fax Systems
There are a variety of VoIP fax providers that offer systems that a business can integrate. While each provider’s services come with quirks, they share certain common features. In addition to allowing you to use a regular fax machine to start the process, they also allow you to go completely digital. In other words, hard copy documents can be scanned or you can send documents you create right on your computer, such as PDF files. Most systems are enabled to work with desktop computers, smart phones and tablets, meaning documents can be faxed on the go, rather than just when a fax machine is readily available or from the office.
Benefits of VoIP Fax
Much as with using a VoIP telephone service, a key benefit of VoIP fax is that it takes advantage of existing, widely-used technology. There is no need to purchase additional equipment and, on the whole, all that is necessary is downloading a bit of software or a mobile app from the VoIP service. The rest is done with the computer and internet service the business already has available. Sending faxes over the internet is also far simpler, because it can eliminate the fax machine entirely. The business no longer needs to worry about upkeep on the machine or replacing the machine every few years.
Sending faxes over the internet also goes a long way to eliminating human and machine error. While a machine might jam in the middle of sending a fax and require a second attempt, digital documents don’t jam. Digital documents sent over the internet also benefit from higher quality on arrival. The signals sent over the telephone line can degrade and result in a grainy, fuzzy or difficult to read document at the recipient’s fax machine. As a rule, digital faxes arrive looking just as clean as the document did on the sender’s computer.
Electing to send faxes over VoIP can lead to substantial cost savings. Just a fax machine or multipurpose fax/printer/scanner, can cost hundreds of dollars. Then there is the monthly cost of a dedicated phone line for the fax along with the paper, ink or toner. A typical ink cartridge, depending on the size and brand, usually start around $20 and toner cartridges can run a cool $100. Just to get up and running with a traditional fax machine can cost hundreds, before a single fax is ever sent. Then there is the cost per fax. Phone service providers set the rates for faxing, but the costs can be significant. A VoIP fax system generally charges in cents per fax, meaning hundreds of faxes cost less than a typical meal at a fast food joint.
It is important to note that, no matter how reliable the VoIP fax provider, the functionality of VoIP fax services depends on the reliability of the customer’s internet service. For example, if a business’s internet service frequently drops or disconnects, it can impair document uploads to the fax service. Reliable internet via smartphones, however, does provide an alternative means of taking advantage of faxes over the internet.
Although traditional fax machines continue to be part of the business landscape, their future is bleak. The increasing adoption of information technology and the tech-savvy of Millennials will continue to erode the viability of traditional fax over phone technology. VoIP fax services offer businesses a way to bridge the gap between the traditional technology, which many businesses continue to rely on, and the inevitable conversion to sending documents digitally, either through emails or via cloud storage.
VoIP and VoIP fax providers provide a genuine and far more economically sound alternative to the traditional fax machine. It provides more reliable document quality on the receiving end, eliminates the need for extra phone lines and offers portability for sending faxes on the go. While the day of the fax isn’t over, businesses can do away with the traditional fax technology.
Originally posted 2014-06-06 09:12:24.