Running a successful business depends on many factors but saving money at any opportunity means extra resources for other purposes, helping to further advance the company’s success. Over the course of the last few years businesses have discovered that one of the best ways to reduce costs is to move the company’s entire phone system to the cloud. As a matter of fact, VoIP has become so affordable and so advanced where its features are concerned that keeping the old phone lines just isn’t worth it anymore.
But when faxing comes into the picture as well, there may be some problems that have to be solved in order to ensure a hassle-free faxing experience over VoIP.
The Problems With Faxing Over VoIP
If we examine the situation from a technical point of view, hooking up the old faxing system to VoIP shouldn’t be a problem if ATAs – adapters available for analog phones and fax machines – are added into the mix. Unfortunately, pairing faxing with VoIP is not that simple because, as a matter of fact, there are huge differences between a single VoIP call and sending an entire document over internet cables.
To understand the problem it’s best to look behind the mechanics of VoIP: every time a VoIP call is made the sound is converted into compressed data packets that travel through the internet, which are then converted back into sound when they reach their intended destination.
However, these data packets always try to find the fastest and clearest route to get to the receiver, often resulting in packets arriving either slower than required or out of order. This is known as ‘lagging’, a pretty annoying phenomenon that users constantly come across during VoIP calls. However, a delay in sound is still something that can easily be compensated for by simply asking the other party of the conversation to repeat what was said.
The situation is completely different when it comes to faxing over internet, though. For starters, faxes can’t tolerate data compression nor packet delay and packet loss. In fact, just one second of delay or 1% of packet loss could result in the complete failure of transmission – something that businesses cannot afford to accept when they need to send important documents in a short space of time. And this is on top of the issue of the different protocols that faxing uses: if the message has to be converted from one protocol to another and vice versa – even during a single transmission – it could prevent the fax from being received by the other party.
How to Make Your Faxes VoIP-Compatible
Thankfully there are a few tricks to make sure that faxes won’t get lost on the vast highway that is the internet, but before picking the right solution you’ll first need to decide whether the fax machine is ready to be retired or not.
VoIP Faxing With a Fax Machine
As already mentioned, a traditional fax machine can indeed be connected to a cloud phone system with an adapter – but not without some tinkering first.
In order to make sure all data is properly transmitted you need to go to your phone system’s settings and switch to G711, the no-compression codec. The fax machine then has to be altered as well by lowering the baud rate to 9,600 and disabling the error correction mode (ECM). Missing any of these steps could result in a failure of the transmission, so if you are uncertain about setting up the fax machine then it’s highly recommended to leave that to professionals.
While setting up the phone system and the fax machine the right way could solve any compatibility issues, the best solution by far is to ditch that hunk of junk entirely, cut those old phone wires (figuratively) and try cloud faxing.
One of the biggest advantages of online faxing is that the service will automatically convert faxes to the right format. Secondly, online faxing is extremely reliable in many ways: all messages are hacker-proof thanks to their bank-level data encryption, most services provide 100% uptime and you’ll always know whether the fax made it to the receiver or not via an email confirmation.
But most importantly, there is a great deal of choice available thanks to the many different online faxing services, from those that are entirely independent from your VoIP provider to those that are part of a subscription either as a basic feature or as a paid extra.