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Why Businesses Choose Fax over IP (FoIP) – An Introduction

Posted on by John Vincent

Fax over IP (FoIP) is the latest technology on the market when it comes to sending and receiving faxes over the internet on a Voice over IP (VoIP) network.  If you haven’t heard already, the premise behind FoIP is ability to implement centralized faxing for your entire organization while also significantly reducing hardware costs by going virtual; you become the hero!  I think those FoIP developers are on to something good.

FoIP is best described as super highway for routing and sending faxes because your existing telephony network becomes the delivery channel for sending and receiving faxes.  This is great because your telephony network is already there (or will be!)…why not use it more?  Also, your new FoIP software is typically hosted on a virtual machine (aka VM) instead of a physical server.  As an example, these VM’s are typically running Windows Server 2003 or 2008 R2 plus the FoIP software.

Here is a summary of benefits that your IT Department should expect:

  1. Install your desktop faxing software on a VM vs. physical server
  2. Simulate the fax board hardware using the new FoIP software; no fax boards required
  3. Scalability is simplified; upgrading from 8 channels to 16 requires a software upgrade vs. installing another fax board
  4. Virtual machines running FoIP have a smaller footprint in your datacenter
  5. Virtualization introduces new disaster recovery options

Once installed, your new FoIP software hooks into your existing telephony system offering seamless integration for all your faxing needs.  Supported phone systems include Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, Quitum, Dialogic VoIP networks, and digital media gateways (aka DMGs).

The following business pains are commonly solved with FoIP solutions:

1. Consolidate enterprise telephony and fax resources – save money

  • Eliminate analog phone lines that are being used with archaic fax machines, multi-function-printers (aka MFPs), and eliminate the need for multiple fax server vendors
  • 25 MFPs @ $30 per month= $750 per month or $9,000 per year (i.e. excellent ROI)

2. Electronically fax from desktop applications – make life easier at work

  • Examples include faxing from email, a virtual printer via file > print, and a standalone application or web interface that is dedicated to all of your faxing needs

3. Route incoming faxes to one or many electronic destinations by routing faxes by the actual digits dials to printer servers, email servers (e.g. Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Outlook), file servers (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint), application servers, database servers, and FTP servers.

  • Reduce long distance faxing expenses by leveraging your intranet’s capability to transmit the fax from the destination country (e.g. a fax to Germany is transmitted in Germany vs. over long distance); requires compatible IP telephony system

4. Extract data from faxes to start workflow processesmake IT resources work for you

  • For example, extract a Purchase Order # and route it to a destination like

5. Centralize management of all document transmissions from multiple sources

  • It is best to have one FoIP solution that can handle all of your faxing needs (see diagram below)

Fax Over IP architecture


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