Chances are, many if not most of your clients are still using fax as a regular component in their overall communication infrastructure--because their customers demand it, or because simple inertia keeps this longstanding protocol in place.

June 6, 2016

7 Min Read
How VoIP Networks Can Create Problems for Your Clients’ Fax Infrastructure (and Cloud Fax Opportunities for You)

Chances are, many if not most of your clients are still using fax as a regular component in their overall communication infrastructure–because their customers demand it, or because simple inertia keeps this longstanding protocol in place.

Some of your clients might have already attempted to move their faxing to the IP platforms they created for the rest of their communications. With their Voice over IP (VoIP) migration likely a successful transition, it was logical for them to assume that their fax would just come along for the ride. But the often surprising reality is that, in many cases, moving fax to IP has just the opposite effect–making your clients’ fax transmissions so trouble-prone and unreliable that their employees actually miss their good-old fax machines and analog fax lines. (Well, as much as anyone can miss those things.)

Why doesn’t fax always play well with IP? Your understanding the answer to that can save your clients a lot of hassles, headaches and fax downtime–and it can create a lucrative business opportunity for you, as it will also serve to illustrate why eFax Corporate is an excellent resale solution for faxing in an IP environment.

Hint–the key is how the fax is treated on the IP network. Do you simply encapsulate the analog fax tones from the PSTN and send them across the Internet? Or do you do something more sophisticated, removing the voice aspects, and sending just data?

Why Standard Faxing Might Be Unreliable in an IP Environment

Perhaps the best way to understand the unique challenges IP poses for faxing is with a transportation analogy. A standard analog fax traversing the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) enjoys the same direct route and traffic-free trip that a Presidential motorcade does as it makes its way across a city, with all road lanes cleared from start to finish.

By contrast, an IP network designed for sophisticated, multi-use UC frameworks is built like a 12-lane interstate highway. Traffic is frenetic and decidedly mixed with voice, video and data all making the journey. And, yet, this seemingly chaotic network offers enormous advantages. For example, MICOM Communications Corporation, which in the 1990s manufactured wide area networking (WAN) products, used the tagline “Voice rides for free” 
for its convergence hardware. The idea was that a business sending large amounts of data over the Internet could realize cost savings by moving its voice communications to the same network and eliminating its analog phone lines.

A key advantage of IP for voice and data communications is consolidation and better capacity utilization while, more often than not, maintaining high quality.

With a phone call, dropping a packet can be annoying, but the connection itself survives–and our amazing human brain interpolates the missing pieces without us even being aware of it. Worst case: You’re forced to ask, “Could you repeat your last sentence?” This is why VoIP is such a successful protocol. It benefits from the compression and packetizing that is at the heart of IP technology–and it is quite forgiving of slight hiccups in delivery to the recipient. Native fax is much less forgiving. A missed or out-of-sequence packet can cause havoc.

How to Show Your Clients That You Understand and Can Offer Fax Solutions Compatible with VoIP

So, what’s your elevator pitch for explaining to your clients why fax doesn’t play nicely with IP platforms, but could? In terms of technological issues, with a fax sent over IP, your clients face two core risks:

  1. Fax can be prone to failures when workaround technologies like Fax over IP (FoIP) attempt to take the native analog “voice” tones of a fax document, slice them up and force them across an IP network. Unlike with a VoIP phone call, if packets are lost in the transmission, that’s the ballgame. The fax transmission fails. No intelligent interpolation by an amazing human brain.

  2. Other workaround solutions bring their own issues. G.711 is wonderful on the PSTN, but sacrifices capacity if simply encapsulated on the IP side. T.38 is inelegant on the PSTN side and doesn’t offer gateway support for fax parameters like Error Correction Mode.

In other words, while moving to an IP infrastructure makes sense for services like voice, data and messaging, fax is a different dynamic if not done properly.

Your Opportunity: What Investigating a Fax Migration to IP Often Uncovers for Your Clients

As stated previously, one key selling point of migrating to IP is the convergence, bandwidth efficiencies and easier management of several types of business communications on a single network–such as voice, data, chat and videoconferencing. It’s natural to assume fax would be just as easy to migrate into the IP environment.

However, when they investigate what’s required to dump their legacy fax infrastructure (fax machines and fax servers) to migrate fax to IP, many businesses decide to hold off so as not to interrupt fax capability across the enterprise. This is particularly true of organizations in such fax-dependent industries as healthcare, financial services, legal, manufacturing and real estate.

Why is this? Often this investigation into their existing fax processes forces these businesses to confront another troubling fact: They have been using–in some cases for decades–not only antiquated technology but antiquated processes. Their legacy fax infrastructure leaves their businesses:

  • Lack of centralized control, visibility and reporting

  • Lack of trackability

  • Inefficient, ad hoc faxing procedures across the business

  • Possible compliance issues with sensitive or unsecured data

  • Higher overall fax costs

It’s hard not to notice these issues of one communication protocol while you’re in the middle of upgrading your other communications for these very reasons.

So, eventually, many enterprise IT organizations decide that IP is the lesser of two evils, and cut the cord on their legacy fax infrastructure to migrate faxing to their new IP platform. After all, many of them reason, fax is “included” in their hosted VoIP services. So it’ll probably work, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, fax in an IP environment might often be just unreliable enough to drive your clients’ organizations crazy. And, as a result, they will relent and keep that one last $50/month PSTN business line. And that cost is easily enough to cover the cloud fax service from you without the hassles!

The Safe Solution for Upgrading Your Clients’ Faxing–a Cloud Fax Solution, with Enterprise Leader eFax Corporate

Your clients don’t have to keep their fax infrastructure in the 1990s–nor do they need to risk the unreliability issues of moving their faxing into their existing IP environments. You can provide them the best of both worlds, with a cloud fax solution from eFax Corporate.

Cloud faxing with your eFax Corporate service gives your clients all of the benefits of migrating to an Internet-based transmission–the benefits they were hoping to realize when they initially began investigating bringing fax over to their new IP networks–but without any of fax’s inherent difficulties with the packetized, compressed-data nature of IP technology.

With an business fax solution, you can help your clients eliminate all of their onsite fax infrastructure–fax servers, fax machines, gateway software, costly telco lines, etc.–while allowing their IT department to outsource the entire fax process to a trusted expert.

At the same time, you’ll be enabling your clients to send and receive faxes securely and cost-effectively by email or through a simple web interface–making fax easier and more convenient than ever.

Become an Authorized eFax Corporate Partner

And you can now offer this leading cloud fax solution to your clients, through our high-touch, lucrative Partner Program. Please visit our eFax Corporate Partner Page to learn more.

Currently responsible for the Enterprise Partner Program for j2 Cloud Services, Peter Ely is a 27-year technology veteran, having held senior executive positions looking after presales support, product management,  product marketing and technical evangelist teams in the telecommunications and data networking arenas in positions located across two continents and three countries.

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