Are Fax Machines Compatible With VoIP?

Most of the time, small changes in a complex environment such as the workplace can have unforeseen consequences. Switching to VoIP brings a host of benefits including lower costs and increases in workplace productivity. But it can have ramifications which you can’t foresee. One of these is the functioning of your fax machines. Without making the proper configurations, your fax machines can’t work as normal. In this article we see how to make fax compatible with VoIP and various ways to do this.A bit of background first. VoIP uses what we call “codecs” in order to convert and compress the voice data into a form which is easily transmittable over the Internet. This also reduces the amount of data transferred. However, while the particular style of compression does a good job with voice, it doesn’t preserve the integrity of the data sent using fax machines. But since the fax system uses the same telephone line that your regular phones use, making the shift to VoIP will break the your fax functionality.Fax also uses a different protocol compared to the phone system. It’s called the T.30 protocol and has served us well for over 30 years. This is why making a call to a fax machine produces the unique squeaky sound. Two fax machines talking to each other using the T.30 protocol will do just fine. But VoIP changes all that.Fax machines these days can come with VoIP protocol functionality enabled. The new protocol is T.38 and it works in such a way that the fax coding and decoding doesn’t become jumbled. This allows you to use it as easily as you would a regular phone by plugging it into the ATA adapter which converts the signals into the digital form required by VoIP.The new system is called FoIP or Fax over IP and it has a few differences from the regular Internet protocol. For one, it uses UDP instead of TCP. This is because TCP requires a system of acknowledgments which can slow down the traffic. To compensate for possible errors, FoIP sends redundant data to the receiver just in case a few packets get lost along the way.It should be kept in mind that computers can be configured to behave like a T.38 fax machine and send any scanned image along. So you might be able to get by with just a scanner and use your computer systems instead. But if you regularly need to quickly send along faxes, you should definitely get yourself a compatible T.38 fax machine.

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