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Will Fax Machines Work With VoIP Systems?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around and realize that in this day and age the internet has taken over almost every aspect of our lives. With the world wide web being at the tips of our fingers, some may forget that fax machines are still very relevant forms of technology for some individuals and businesses of all sizes. This holds true for government industries, healthcare industries, and finance industries that use fax machines on a daily basis.

Yes, they have become less common and are usually only utilized by people who are long term fax users. Now, those who need to send or receive documents occasionally will use email instead of the typical fax machines. This is where the question of fax machine and VoIP system compatibility comes into play. 

What is VoIP?

VoIP is a common term used to define Voice over Internet Protocol, which is the delivery of voice or multimedia content and communication to other users over the internet. Hence the name, all types of communication is moved by digital transmissions through a wifi or data connection. To gain a better understanding, WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber are common types of VoIP communications that enable users to make calls or send texts.

Can Faxes Be Sent Over VoIP?

There are a few different ways that this question can be answered, but the shortest answer to give is a simple yes. Faxes can, in fact, be sent over VoIP systems, but it’s not always the most reliable way. In a nutshell, fax machines will transmit images or any sort of document over analogue networks, in order to reach another receiving machine. The machine on the receiving end will then interpret the message and print out a copy in the form of a material scanned document.

Traditionally, these fax machines were programmed to use analogue data to transmit information to one and other. This form of data is an old T.30 protocol, which isn’t compatible with newer and upgraded VoIP systems. The data that fax machines produce cannot be compressed into VoIP transmissions, making digital data packets nonexistent. In order for VoIP data to be sent through fax machines, these machines will need to digitize voice transmissions as reassembled analogue sound, and pieced together as best as it can be on the receiving end.

Sure, this sounds like a simple solution but because fax machines are sensitive to packet delays and packet loss, sending information through these machines with VoIP technology isn’t a safe bet. If all the digitized packets don’t get assembled as analogue data correctly, then there will be missing information and lost documents. The worst-case scenario would be your fax failing to send.

Look for a Solution Using a PSTN Service

Luckily, some newer fax machines are using T.38 protocol, which works by taking the machine’s signal and converting it into an internet compatible one, rather than analoging it. As a result, these improved fax machines can reliably send and receive faxes with VoIP systems in place.

Another great solution to this issue is using PSTN services. PSTN, which is short for public switched telephone network, is the world’s most circuit-switched telephone networks that are operated nationally by telephone operators in hopes of providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunications. Not only is a PSTN a stable and comprehensive connector for telephone, cellular, and satellite networks, faxing data and other communications can be easily transmitted between systems.

Looking back at the questions of whether or not faxes can be sent over VoIP systems is more complicated, as you can see. Yes, some information from fax machines can be sent over the internet, but it might not be the most intended transmission method for businesses. However, now that better forms of technology and updated fax machines are making an appearance, it won’t be long before these two different systems are 100% compatible.