By | Susy Richards
What is an Internet Fax?
Internet fax is a generic term referring to sending and receiving faxes using the internet instead of the conventional method of a telephone network and a fax machine. It is a paperless communication which is combined with email and requires no separate telephone line for the fax. Internet fax is able to concurrently send and receive multiple faxes, and as such is very useful for both individual faxing and broadcast faxing, from any Internet access point. Internet fax, which is more advanced than conventional fax technology, is also called email fax, digital fax and online fax.
Internet fax services are offered by various providers where you, as a subscriber, pay a monthly fee for a particular plan and are allotted a dedicated fax number. For example, Hottelecom. When someone sends a fax to this number, your provider accepts the fax and converts it into a digital file which is forwarded to your nominated email address.
Internet faxing is convenient because it does away with printing a hard copy which is then sent via a fax machine. With this method of faxing you print a document directly into the fax software then send it through your computer’s modem. The same procedure applies with incoming faxes. Most internet fax services allow you to send attachments like word documents, PDFs or pictures.
Here are some of the significant advantages that Internet faxing has over the conventional technology.
- Lower costs. The monthly fee charged by most online fax services is far less than what you would pay for a dedicated phone line and there are no long distance phone charges which apply. It does away with the need for a fax machine and the attendant costs of paper, toner, etc. You do not need to print all faxes; you can review your faxes as files and print only those you need to. Since faxes are sent via email, sending and receiving them incurs no phone charges.
- More efficient time usage. Most carriers provide for multiple email addresses where you can decide where the faxes are to be delivered. Since they are being sent via email, you can review and action your faxes on email-enabled PDAs.
- Greater reliability. Your dedicated fax number is active 24/7, which means your account accepts faxes round the clock. This is different to a fax machine which requires a free phone line to accept a fax. Internet faxing is especially useful for those who use one phone line for telephone, fax and dial-up. You never have a situation of paper jams or running out of paper as with a fax machine.
- Easy to use. Internet fax appeals to most people because of its usage simplicity. Sending and receiving faxes is done through a familiar email interface. The user needs no knowledge of fax machines or faxing software.
- Security. Most internet fax services support encryption technology. Since you nominate your email addresses to receive faxes, your documents are significantly more secure than when they are transmitted over a shared fax machine.
- Advantage of toll-free numbers. Many services allow local and toll-free fax numbers which means your clients can fax you for free.
- When looking for an online internet fax service, consider the various benefits on offer with particular relevance to your usage. Points to consider are the number of free pages in a particular plan, the period of storage, the number of users in a plan and the customer support offered.
One of the main reasons people switch over to VoIP to meet their telecommunications needs is the much talked about cost savings. The other much touted benefits of VoIP are thought of as a bonus and it is only after they start using VoIP that people realize how good it is and how useful these “bonus” features are. But since cost savings it the prime motivator for switching to VoIP, it makes sense to have a look at the kind of savings that can be achieved. You can get your cheap outbound phone numbers with Hottelecom.
Here is the breakdown of a typical medium use monthly residential phone bill:
- Line rental charges $12
- Average monthly call plan $10
- Additional call time $8
- Long distance call plan $10
- Additional long distance calls $5
- Caller ID $6
- Call forwarding $3
- Call waiting $3
- Surcharges $6
- Federal taxes $1
- Long distance taxes & surcharges $1
- Total monthly bill $65
The details may vary, but this is what a typical home phone bill looks like.
VoIP service providers will not break up the bill in this way – they do not need to because the surcharge and tax structure is different. And the distance from the point of call origin to its destination has no impact on the service providers’ costs; there is no extra charge for long distance. So most of them offer a flat monthly all inclusive plan with unlimited local and long distance calls. The cost may vary from provider to provider, but the average cost is just $20 a month. That is an average savings of $45, or 75% per month on your phone bills. And in a year that exceeds $500, which is definitely not small change.
Most VoIP service providers include the basic extras like caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding as part of their monthly packages. There is also no extra charge for conference calls and transmitting images, video and text along with the call. There are a number of value added services available that traditional phone companies cannot offer and these may be charged extra, but you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to. The best thing to do is start with a basic plan and then add on extra services as you feel the need. Even with the add ons, the monthly bill will be far lower than your landline one.
When you want to call landlines and cell phone using VoIP there will be a small interconnection charge for connecting to the landline or cell phone network. But this will still be only a fraction of the cost of a conventional call.
For businesses with heavy phone traffic, VoIP service providers offer special plans that can cut their communication costs by 70% and more, depending on the volume of calling they do.
It’s not always necessary to switch from your existing phone system, and this is a big advantage for companies that may already have dozens, or even hundreds of office phones already in place. However, an IP phone does offer some advantages, in that it is designed to take full advantage of all the features that VoIP calling has to offer. However, should a business wish to continue using their existing phones, it’s usually a simple matter to do so, and a low-cost VoIP phone adapter can be used to make this happen.