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Fax VoIP Featured Article

Knowing the Basics of FoIP

March 11, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

When we think of fax, we think of a tired fax machine or multifunction printer sitting in the corner of an office and spitting out poorly legible documents. But just as telephone has evolved quite a lot over the past few years, so too has the fax.

The latest in fax technology, fax-over-internet-protocol (FoIP), hardly resembles the stereotype most of us have about fax. In fact, if you’ve ever sent a fax from a computer, you’ve already used FoIP and probably noticed that things have changed.

The faxing over a computer that you’ve experienced probably didn’t feel much like a regular fax. It lacked the comforting beeps that you know are signaling that the fax was received, and it probably also lacked the confirmation of a successful transmission.

The latest generation of FoIP systems combines the best of traditional faxing with the cost savings of Internet-based transmission, however, and can be experienced by using a service such as FaxSIPit, which quickly and cheaply helps businesses move from a traditional fax setup to a modern FoIP setup.

FoIP is basically faxing done over the Internet. The main difference is that the transmission of the fax travels along the Internet instead of over telephone wires. This same move to Internet transmission has occurred with voice, too, and we call it voice-over-IP (VoIP). If you’ve ever used Skype (News - Alert), you know VoIP.

In both the case of FoIP and VoIP, data makes all or most of the trip between sending and receiving devices on a packet-switched network, thus avoiding the long-distance phone lines of the circuit-switched telephone network. This reduces the cost of transmission and is more efficient.

The “IP” in FoIP stands for Internet Protocol, which is the series of standards to transmit data through the Internet. Data over the Internet travels as data packets, which are simple chunks of data organized in a way for easy sending and receiving.

When transmitting a fax between two fax machines using IP, the transmission cost is the same as for email, and it's faster because transmission is entirely via broadband channels. If only one machine is using IP, it is possible to hop off the Internet prior to the destination by using session initiation protocol (SIP), which basically allows the digital fax to then interface with analog, older fax equipment on the destination side.

Moving to FoIP can be as easy as using an adapter on an existing fax machine, or even easier by subscribing to a cloud-based fax service that eliminates the need for fax equipment entirely.

In the latter case, faxes can be sent from a computer and received by email.

But if you still want those familiar beeps, it is possible to connect fax machines to the Internet. FoIP takes many forms.

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