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Understanding Fax over IP (FoIP) | GFI Software

One of the most popular recent trends with fax is the move away from traditional analog and digital signalling and towards fax over IP. In this video I'll explain the benefits of fax over IP, three ways to get there, how it works with GFI FaxMaker and how to get started.

One of the main benefits of fax over IP is the ability to run GFI FaxMaker on a virtual server. Since you no longer have a physical modem or fax card that is required on the fax server, this allows you to separate GFI FaxMaker from the hardware and run it on a virtual machine.

Moving to fax over IP also allows you to leverage your existing phone infrastructure, if you have a voice over IP phone network that supports fax over IP. In larger environments or distributed environments this also allows you to leverage your phone system infrastructure for least cost routing. So that I can send a fax from let's say North Carolina and have it right over our IP infrastructure to let's say, the UK to send out as a local fax rather than sending out an international fax.

Fax over IP also allows you to very easily scale your fax server because you're dealing with an all software solution. It's just a matter of adding additional licensing for GFI FaxMaker and for the fax over IP software rather than adding additional modems or fax cards to the server. So let's now look at three ways to move fax over IP.

The most popular option is integrating with an existing Voice over IP phone system that supports T.38. T.38 is the preferred and most reliable protocol for fax over IP so if your phone system supports it then you can have the connection to the outside world. Or you can have the public switched telephone network come into your phone system, have your phone system convert that traditional analog or digital signal to IP and then connect to the IP to the fax server again using T.38. Now if your phone system doesn't support T.38, then you can introduce a T.38 capable media gateway to perform that conversion so the connection between the phone system and the Gateway is still analog or digital but the gateway is converting that analog or digital signal into IP for delivery to the fax server. Note that this setup would also work without the phone system, so if you have just regular phone lines coming in from your phone network, you can also use a gateway to migrate to fax over IP.

The third option is connecting directly to the Internet to a hosted SIP trunk provider. Now SIP is one of the transport mechanisms used to get the T.38 packets from point A to point B. So in this case instead of having the Gateway on-premise to perform that conversion from analog or digital to IP, you're going to use a hosted provider who's is going to be performing that conversion for you. Note that this is a little bit different than just connecting directly to the Internet. You do need a hosted SIP provider who's going to perform that conversion for you.

Within GFI FaxMaker itself, if we look inside the fax server you have the GFI FaxMaker software which is responsible for converting faxes from an email to a fax and vice versa. GFI FaxMaker will talk to a fax over IP software module. That software module will talk to the network interface card on the server or if its virtual machine the virtual network interface connection and then through that network interface card, GFI FaxMaker will talk over your network to one of the options that we previously discussed. Either the phone system, the Gateway or the hosted provider.

So to get started with fax over IP, you can go to GFI.com and download the free 30-day trial of GFI FaxMaker. During the configuration wizard, you have the option to choose one of the two fax over IP software modules that I mentioned earlier.

Either the Brooktrout SR140, made by Dialogic or XCAPI, made by TE-Systems. Both of these providers maintain a list of phone systems gateways and hosted SIP providers that they've tested with their solution. Links to both those inner operability lists are found within the description of this video. And finally, you can work with GFI technical support for free during the trial over phone, chat or email. And if you click on the Support link from the main GFI webpage, you'll find out more information about contacting and working with our support team.