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How to connect regular fax machine to VOIP

Posted on 2014-12-14
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Last Modified: 2014-12-18
At our business, we have switched phone network to VOIP.  We have a web faxing solution in place for faxing.  However, some employees still want to use traditional fax machine for convenience.  Our VOIP provider says they do not support any solution for using traditional fax machine over VOIP.  Our provider says their experience has been that solutions provided to use traditional fax machine over VOIP have not worked well because of problems with differences in compression of data.  Any information on how to connect traditional fax machine to VOIP would be appreciated.
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Question by:dur2348
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by:agonza07
agonza07 earned 167 total points
ID: 40499617
It's really up to the provider on what they support, you can try it but I doubt you'll like the results. It seems you may just want to send faxes using a fax machine rather than receive them since you are using a web faxing solution, I'm guessing you are already receiving faxes via email or something similar.

My advice then would be to order a POTS line from another provider and hook this up directly to your fax machine(s). With just one line you should be able to hook up more than one fax machine for outgoing faxes. Not sure where you are based out of, but in the USA it'll run you about $30-60 a month for this line, plus LD charges.

The other thing I can advise is to provide your users with some more training on how to use the web faxing solution. They may just need to understand how that works a little more until they are comfortable with it.
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LVL 17

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by:JRSCGI
JRSCGI earned 166 total points
ID: 40502011
There is a specific protocol that enables a VoIP system to reliably support fax - T.38.  However, not all VoIP providers will support T.38.  Some fax machines will still work ok with the G.711 codec without T.38, but the fax machine usually needs to operate at a slower speed than its rated maximum.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.38
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Author Comment

by:dur2348
ID: 40502394
JRSCGI thanks for your information.  Our current VOIP provider does not support faxing.  I read the article you referenced and checked some of the providers on the provider list.  Our current VOIP is Mitel marketed by our local phone company.  The cost to add POTS line for us is about the same as the cost from the providers on the list for T.38.  Do you know anyone that is using the T.38 protocol for faxing?  If so, is it being done through the provider of their VOIP carrier?  Do you know anyone using it from a third party provider and can you recommend any particular company?  Thanks again for your help.
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LVL 26

Accepted Solution

by:
Dr. Klahn earned 167 total points
ID: 40504065
T.38 is thinly supported, "less than universal" and usually expensive to boot.  A POTS line specifically for FAX use is the obvious solution but it might be worth inquiring into why the reluctant employees find fax-over-net inconvenient.  Most documents are prepared on PCs.  It is easier and more efficient of time to send a machine-readable document to fax over the net than it is to print it, cart it to the fax machine, punch in the destination number, feed it in, wait two minutes for confirmation, and then both the original and the confirmation away.  It would appear there's a saving of at least three minutes plus two sheets of paper by using fax-over-net.

I recommend the commentary below on why FAX doesn't work over VOIP.

http://www.soft-switch.org/foip.html
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Author Closing Comment

by:dur2348
ID: 40506891
All the answers provided valuable information so I divided the points.  For our business, we are going to run pots line and continue fax over net temporarily until everyone has time to adjust to faxing over the Internet.
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