The facsimile machine, better known as fax, is a device that transmits text documents, images and graphics over the regular telephone lines. While this in itself is a popular and widely used technology, the enormous developments on the Internet and the World Wide Web have given rise to a new idea – Internet Fax. Internet Fax is a technology that uses the Internet to transmit documents and content.
In the case of regular fax machines, a telephone line was used to connect 2 fax machines and documents that were scanned at one end were transmitted to the other end, where replicas were printed. With Internet faxing, the printing at the receiving end is nullified, as the transmitted documents are directly accessible in the computer systems via the Internet.
Internet faxing can be done in several ways. The most common and economical option is to use a fax server/ gateway, which acts as a document converter between the fax received from the sender and the email sent to the recipient. The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) technology can be used for this purpose.
Advantages over regular Facsimile
It must be noted that the Internet capabilities have no direct impact on the fax technology itself. The impact lies in its enhanced capabilities. With Internet penetration into faxing, several new and interesting features have provided Internet fax an edge over regular facsimile. Here are some of the prominent features:
One of the major advantages is the reduction in costs. With the ability to send fax from PC and use the web for transmission, overseas or distant fax transmissions are virtually free of cost. The only charges incurred may be for the Internet connection and the Internet Fax capability, which are nominal when compared to the costs of setting up a physical printer/ Scanner/ MFD-based fax device.
Integration with MIME:
Another prominent feature of the Internet Fax is its ability to integrate with electronic mail, using Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) formats. This allows it to be integrated with mail clients and other similar software, in order to provide more capabilities.
Integration with Regular Fax Devices:
If a fax device is Internet-capable, it can directly send fax content to an Internet Fax-based device or recipient. In such a case, the hard copy at the sender’s end is converted (scanned) by the scanning module into a PDF (Adobe’s Portable Document Format) or TIFF format (Tagged Image File Format) and sent directly to the recipient, via the usual TCP/ IP protocol, standard Computer Network.
Reduced Paper Consumption:
With many offices turning towards green ideologies, it is an excellent idea to switch to Internet-based fax. This reduces paperwork considerably and allows for a paper-free work environment. Not only does this reduce the company’s environmental impact, but also helps to reduce printing and paper costs.
No Hardware/ Software Required:
Since there is no physical device needed to send and receive Internet fax, there is no need for hardware as well. As Internet fax is directly compatible with web mail, no separate software is needed to set it up either.
With many advantages and virtually no demerits, the internet fax is all set to become the next big thing in the world of communication and networking.
Nathan Morgan has been an IT professional for 14 years.