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Faxing gets new lease on life

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Faxing is an important way to exchange legal documents that need signatures, and is widely used by many government departments. While faxing over the Internet has some uses, it has never been entirely reliable, but the T.38 Fax over the Internet Protocol may just give faxing a new lease on life, writes SHANNON DUFFIN, operations director of Switch Telecom.

Unfortunately, faxing over the Internet has historically been unable to deliver acceptable reliability. Faxing over the web has always been something of a hit and miss scenario. You’re never quite sure the fax has actually been delivered in its entirety. This uncertainty results in the inevitable trip to the local Postnet, which completely defeats the point of having ready access to transmission technology,

The T.38 Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) solves this reliability challenge. Switch Telecom’s entire network is T.38-enabled, giving the venerable fax a new lease on life. A simple adapter plugged into an existing fax machine means one can use a VoIP line to reliably send and receive faxes in real time. There is no need to store and send faxes later on. This is particularly important for the legal profession, for example, where certain rules of evidence demand that documents are sent and received in real time. Essentially, the traditional fax machine – with all its bells and whistles – can now transmit across an invisible IP network, circumventing both expensive landline networks and earlier unreliable faxing protocols. Switch Telecom clients will find that they can save 30% to 50% on fax transmission costs, depending on the faxing destination and the size of the faxes. In addition, a subscription for a VoIP line that one can use for faxing costs just a quarter of landline alternatives. T.38 means that the many South Africans who still depend on faxing can, with a simple hardware attachment and a reliable broadband connection, use a variety of devices to transmit highly-detailed, better-looking faxes that virtually eliminate any possibility of interpretation errors. Faxing is so ingrained in certain public and private sector institutions that it doesn’t make sense to try convert them to email. Rather, the solution is a more reliable way of faxing.

South Africa is not the only country in which faxing remains an important way of transmitting legal documents. Even a highly developed economy like Japan relies extensively on handwritten faxes.

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