It is estimated that there are 112 million fax machines in use in the world today with more than 6 million new units sold each year. Despite the rise of email and the Internet, fax continues to be an important means for business communications. One of the main reasons that fax has seen continued growth is its simplicity. Fax machines are easy to use and hence a simple way to receive documents quickly, safely and securely.
Recently, however, as businesses migrate their voice traffic to an IP environment, there also exists a natural inclination to migrate their fax traffic to IP. This whitepaper will review the growing need for real-time fax over IP solutions, the issues associated with implementations of real-time fax over IP, and discusses Brooktrout's strategy for bringing a robust, reliable solution based on the T.38 protocol to market in 2004.
Faxing has traditionally been done in real-time over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), via the T.30 fax protocol and several modem standards, as defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The reasons for the popularity of real-time circuit-switched fax include the real-time receipt of a fax, immediate notification that the fax has been successfully sent, and that the receiver gets information on the sender's telephone number and the time the fax was received. These features have become essential parts of the fax experience and have set expectations that will continue to apply for advances in fax communication, including fax over IP.