It's a common process for today's businesses: taking a piece of aging technology and replacing it with something more innovative, user-friendly and advanced. We've seen this type of transition take place with all different types of tools, but it's particularly familiar when it comes to communication technology.
Consider, for a moment, voice calling. Previously, plain old telephone service, or POTS, through traditional copper lines was the order of the day. Every business had POTS in place, with dedicated, on premise phone hardware to support voice communication. Now, however, things have changed considerably. VoIP solutions, which enable calls over the internet, are more popular than ever before.
This trend is impacting not only enterprises, who are eliminating their POTS lines for VoIP, but telecommunication service providers as well. As demand drops for legacy POTS, telcos are abandoning their copper line networks in favor of all-IP options.
While IP services promise cost efficiency and ease of use, they're also notorious faulty when it comes to fax transmissions. And because fax is still widely used for sensitive communications and to support compliance with standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS, problems with sending faxes over all-IP networks is becoming a growing concern.
Making the switch: IP in favor of POTS
There are numerous reasons that businesses and consumers across the globe are ditching their POTS lines for more advanced IP fax network options:
- Cost efficiency: The cost of traditional copper line telephone service has skyrocketed, particularly in the U.S. According to data from Future of Sourcing, California has experienced a five-fold increase in the price of POTS, and costs for service in Midwestern states have doubled. In this way, bringing voice calling and other communications over to the IP network is simply less expensive.
- A more unified tech infrastructure: Businesses that leverage their IP networks for communication help create a more unified and less complex infrastructure, where critical elements like voice calling use IP instead of separate POTS lines.
- Following the trends: As this fact sheet from Consumer Action pointed out, about two-thirds of Americans have already made the switch from copper telephone lines to IP network solutions for voice, video and other communication.
"IP-based voice service promises advantages, such as faster transmission, clearer calls and the ability to take advantage of digital phone features (voicemail forwarding and call filtering, for example)," Consumer Action stated. "The benefits of the new IP-based network combined with the decreased use of the aging network means it is time to begin figure out how to make the universal transition to IP-based services as smoothly and efficiently as possible."
Telcos driving the change: Eliminating copper lines for fiber
However, one of the largest factors driving adoption of all-IP solutions is the fact that many big-name telecommunications providers are abandoning their longstanding copper POTS lines to build up their IP and fiber-based networks. This change comes not only in response to the rising trend of consumer and businesses use of VoIP over POTS, but also due to the fact that traditional copper line networks are extremely expensive for telcos to maintain. In this way, it's simply not feasible for telco providers to support two networks – one for POTS and another that's fiber-based – any longer.
"Every dollar an incumbent LEC must put towards maintaining its aging copper facilities is a dollar it cannot spend on something else, such as fiber deployment," the Federal Communications Commission noted in a recent proposal in favor of boosting investment in broadband networks.
In fact, some telcos including Verizon and AT&T are already leading this charge, replacing its copper network with fiber. AT&T, for instance, is working toward eliminating POTS across 21 states where it still provides traditional telephone service, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The issue of fax over IP
While IP networks promise benefits like faster connections, clearer voice calling and better service, users are finding that not all processes can be seamlessly transitioned over to the all-IP network. One of the main issues here is with fax transmissions, which have proven to be very unreliable within an all-IP environment.
"So if legacy analog applications like fax are still in use by your organization, you need to be extra careful because (VoIP) faxing often experiences a high failure rate when running over Voice over Internet Protocol," Computerworld contributor David Hold pointed out. "For companies, especially those in regulated industries such as legal, finance or healthcare, that still need to send or receive faxes on a regular basis, this can be a real problem."
And the issue only grows when decision-makers consider the alternative – while some UC providers recommend that businesses maintain their POTS just to ensure fax transmission, this can considerably drive up communication costs and stall the transition to an all-IP network.
Support reliable fax: Intelligent routing from an expert service provider
As the demand for IP network solutions grow, business leaders simply cannot take a step back. Maintaining POTS just for fax transmissions isn’t cost feasible, and as telecommunication service providers continue to replace their copper lines with fiber, the decision to keep POTS may not be an option for very much longer.
In this way, organizations need a solution that will enable them to take advantage of all the benefits that an all-IP network can offer, while still ensuring that faxes can be reliably sent and received. Fax will remain a compliant communication channel, and supporting it within an all-IP network should continue to be a top priority.
The ideal solution is to use a fax service provider like FaxCore that partners with etherFAX. This service is unique, and enables fax calls to be intelligently routed through etherFAX's robust and expansive network of communication carriers. In this way, each fax is routed according to the most reliable connection available at the moment of transmission, helping to eliminate the issues seen with VoIP fax transmission.
Both inbound and outbound faxes can be routed across the etherFAX network, supporting dependable reliability for senders and receivers. And because etherFAX has strong partnerships with telecommunications carriers, faxes can be successfully routed even from overseas locations.
Best of all, because etherFAX can directly integrate with customers' IP infrastructure. This means etherFAX's experts maintain and manage telecommunications carrier support, and customers can leverage a digital fax board to send and receive transmission in a more traditional and reliable manner.
To find out more about supporting your business's fax transmissions in an all-IP world, connect with us at FaxCore today.