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The VoIP Report

Fax over IP: The Truth about Security and Reliability
August 30th, 2017

Fax over IP: The Truth about Security and Reliability

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Many businesses with strict security guidelines and regulations, such as those in the healthcare, financial, and legal industries, still rely on the traditional fax. Will these industries and other fa...

Many businesses with strict security guidelines and regulations, such as those in the healthcare, financial, and legal industries, still rely on the traditional fax. Will these industries and other fax holdouts ever embrace VoIP for faxing?

Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP)

Though some think it’s a recent addition to IP technology, Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) has been around a long time. You at one time or another may have sent a fax from your computer. Even though it didn’t seem like a fax, because you didn’t have to print a copy, leave your desk, go to the fax machine, enter the information and send, it still was a fax. It was just FoIP.

How it works

Fax over IP works in essentially the same way as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Data is transmitted and received via a packet-switched digital network (typically the Internet).

Traditional fax methods are transmitted via traditional telephone circuit-switched analog networks and, depending on their destination, must access long-distance lines.

This means that FoIP can save your business money with each fax transmission by eliminating long-distance and international call charges. In addition, transmissions occur faster because they occur via broadband internet.

FoIP challenges

You may have heard that FoIP has some challenges, but these can be easily overcome. Reliable FoIP is possible when it is engineered correctly. An operating issue known as protocol conversion occurs at the gateway (fax server).

Millions of fax machines in use today understand T.30 data transmissions, so in order for fax transmission to succeed, FoIP software bundles are the conduit and must ensure the data is converted from T.30 to T.38, transmitted, and then converted from T.38 back to T.30. If these data packets are delayed, the gateway sends the appropriate signal to ensure the receiving fax machine does not time out prior to receipt.

An additional challenge of FoIP is network timing. Transmission via the Internet is not as regulated as traditional phone lines. When timing is not uniform, fax transmission can be corrupted or fail. With FoIP, this delay can be a result of processing T.30 to T.38 conversions, network congestion, or jitter buffers. In each of these cases, the gateway can convey the delay and keep the connection with the receiver open until completion. To counteract lost packets, FoIP utilizes redundant packets and packet receipt confirmations to ensure delivery.

FoIP is secure and reliable

Some businesses that handle confidential documents are concerned about security when using FoIP. The truth is that FoIP can actually be more secure than traditional fax when point-to-point encryption is in place. Though faxing is not as popular as it once was, many companies continue to rely on fax to send and receive official and confidential documents. The good  news is that the security and reliability today’s FoIP offers is the ideal solution for speedy yet trustworthy document transmission in any industry.


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