Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Internet fax and paperless office

Internet fax uses the internet to receive and send faxes.

Internet faxing (or "online faxing") is a general term which refers to sending a document facsimile using the Internet, rather than using only phone networks (traditional faxing).

Depending on the specific method/implementation (see below), advantages of using the internet can include

1. No extra telephone line required for the fax
2. Paperless communication, integrated with email
3. Send and receive multiple faxes simultaneously
4. Reduction in phone costs

Note that depending on which method is used, suitable equipment and/or the use of a gateway is required.

Internet Fax achieves a dramatic reduction in communication costs especially when long faxes are frequently exchanged with overseas or distant offices. Since there is no telephone connection charge when sending a fax over the Internet, the cost of sending faxes is covered entirely by the fixed line Internet connection fee. The recipient machine must also be compatible with Internet Fax.

Hardcopy is converted to TIFF or PDF data and attached to an e-mail in MIME format. Then, taking advantage of a connection to the office LAN, data is sent via TCP/IP directly to any Internet Fax on the intranet or Internet. Because they make use of TCP/IP, Internet Faxes do not incur long-distance transmission costs and reception is verifiable.

On a business side, it may not be entirely possible to run a completely paperless office. After all, sometimes it’s necessary to generate hard copies; many of your customers will want a hard copy for their own records. But you can make every exerted effort to “go paperless” by reviewing ways your company generates paper copies of documents you don’t really need to print out, when such documents can be stored digitally. And eliminating the hoards of paper waste generated by traditional faxing methods, and replacing such inefficient practices with a digital answer just makes good sense not to mention mother earth will like it.

The Internet has enabled development of several other methods of sending and receiving a fax.

The more common method is an extension of computer-based faxing, and involves using a fax server/gateway to the Internet to convert between faxes and emails. It is often referred to as "fax to mail" or "mail to fax". This technology is more and more replacing the traditional fax machine because it offers the advantage of dispensing with the machine as well as the additional telephone line.

Fax machine → Phone line → Fax gateway → email message (over Internet) → computer email account

A fax is sent via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) on the fax server, which receives the fax and converts it into PDF or TIFF format, according to the instructions of the user. The fax is then transmitted to the Web server which posts it in the Web interface on the account of the subscriber, who is alerted of the reception by an email containing the fax as an attached file and sometimes by a message on their mobile phone.

Computer → Internet → Fax gateway → Phone line → Fax machine
From his/her computer, in the supplier Web site, the user chooses the document s/he wants to send and the fax number of the recipient. When sending, the document is usually converted to PDF format and sent by the Web server to the fax server, which then transmits it to the recipient fax machine via the Standard Telephone Network. Then the user receives a confirmation that the sending was carried out, in his/her web interface and/or by email.
An Internet fax service allows one to send faxes from a computer via an Internet connection, thanks to a Web interface usually available on the supplier's Web site.

This technology has many advantages:

No fax machine → no maintenance, no paper, toner expenditure, possible repairs, etc.
Mobility → All actions are done on the Web interface; the service is thus available from any computer connected to Internet, everywhere in the world.
Confidentiality → The faxes are received directly on the account of the user; he is the only one who can access it. The received faxes are then less likely to be lost or read by the wrong people.
No installation of software or hardware → All actions are done on the Web interface of the supplier, on the account of the user.
No telephone subscription for an additional line dedicated to the fax.

Many faxes can be sent or received simultaneously, and faxes can be received while the computer is switched off.

Early email to fax services such as The Phone Company and Digital Chicken were developed in the mid-1990s. Now there are dozens and dozens of companies that offers internet faxing or fax to email services. Onesuite.com which a primary prepaid phone card company also has a fax to email feature. Unlimited receiving for only $1 a month, just think how many pieces of paper you will save in a month by getting your fax digitally.

1 comment:

dave88 said...

I Just wanted to add that Gotreception.com (http://www.gotreception.com) is a great resource for finding out where reception problems are most likely to occur.