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-- by Lori L. Bloomer
Faxing as we know it offers some serious challenges: a dedicated phone line, big phone bills and slow connections. So with the average modem connecting at twice the speed of the fastest fax, and the Internet offering easy access, who needs fax?
You might. Internet fax, a hybrid of net-based communications and image-based document transmission, retains the advantages of faxing even as it eliminates or reduces many of the problems.
Internet fax is essentially a point-to-point transmission of a digitized image of your document. It's still a document, but using an existing Internet connection for desktop faxing eliminates many of the problems of analog fax-most notably, the cost. Most companies choose an Internet provider with a local point of presence, making each call a much less expensive proposition.
Never a Busy Signal
Earlier this year, FaxSav entered the arena with a global, Internet-based fax network that allows users to send faxes worldwide with no busy signals, long-distance charges or delivery problems. The company's FaxMailer program added the ability to give your fax machine an e-mail address, allowing quick transmission of text-based faxes from any desktop.
More recently, Symantec, which acquired fax software publisher Delrina last year, has been aggressively promoting Internet fax as a viable option. WinFax PRO 7.5 includes this option, and Symantec has teamed up with NetCentric to give WinFax PRO users specific Internet servers as a medium for fast, easy, point-to-point fax connectivity for about 15 cents per minute, worldwide.
Then there's RightFAX, which features a Web client module that allows users to manage a fax mailbox through a browser. It installs as part of a Microsoft IIS site, allowing users to share a single fax server.
The Logiphone Group offers a flat $35 per month Internet fax service based on a "smart" autodialer that routes long-distance faxes through the Internet, but lets local ones pass through normal phone lines. Specom's Internet Color Fax lets users send both black-and-white and color faxes through a PC, using a printer as the fax's destination.