The E-volution of Fax

The E-volution of Fax – Internet/Web/Online Service Information

Dan Costa

Why you may no longer need a fax machine

WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF E-MAIL, ALPHANUMERIC pages, and instant messages. Given this electronic environment, is there any room left for the old-fashioned fax? Surprisingly, many home office workers say the answer is yes–there is still ample demand for facsimile transmissions from clients, supervisors, and coworkers who want to receive or shareinformation on paper instead of onscreen.

Fortunately, even if your budget or desk lacks the room for a dedicated fax machine, you can send and receive faxes online. According to their backers, modern Internet services have made faxing easier, faster, and cheaper than plain-paper fax.

“We are eliminating the need for a fax machine,” says Janice Kapner, director of marketing and corporate communications at eFax (, which offers a free fax-to-e-mail service to more than one million subscribers. Once you sign up, eFax will assign you a phone number at which you can receive faxes, which are then forwarded to an e-mail address of your choosing.

Internet faxing has caught the attention of both large and small businesses. Last year, according to San Jose, Calif.-based market research firm Dataquest, 1.7 billion faxed pages were sent over IP-based networks. That number is expected to soar to 14 billion pages in 2002, or about 10 percent of all U.S. fax traffic.

The main advantage to Internet faxing is cost: You don’t have to invest in equipment, you don’t need to pay for a dedicated fax line, and Internet services often require only a flat fee to use. Receiving faxes from eFax is free, for example, though sending e-mail to a fax machine costs $2.95 plus the cost of the call.

NetMoves, an Edison, N.J.-based Internet fax provider recently acquired by the free e-mail service, lets small business owners both send and receive faxes via e-mail for $4.95 per month. The package includes a personal fax number, software to send faxes, and 100 free outbound and 100 free inbound fax pages; additional pages cost 5 cents each.

JFax and Yahoo have also teamed to offer a free incoming fax service to Yahoo e-mail users. If users want to send faxes or receive faxes via a local number, however, they’ll need to purchase JFax’s Business Fax service for $12.50 per month plus a $15 activation fee. It’s a little more expensive, but the JFax/Yahoo bundle lets customers send faxes from any e-mail-enabled device, including notebook computers and Palm VII organizers.

Convenience is another selling point. With most Internet faxing services, your faxes become digital files that can be copied, forwarded, and archived. There’s also no learning curve. “If someone’s out there using e-mail to send out documents and would like to use the same exact process to fax,” says NetMoves vice president of marketing Bill Fallon, “they’ll love our solution, because it works the same way.”

As a final plus, you never miss a fax. “The `always on’ aspect of a Web-based fax service means that numerous faxes can be received simultaneously at the same number,” says Leslie Morgan Nakajima, director of corporate communications at, a universal messaging provider based in San Mateo, Calif. “Faxes can be received even when a computer is offline or the phone line is being used for another purpose,” she adds.

On the other hand, there are a few limitations to Internet fax: You need online access and a scanner to fax paper documents, and if you send or receive more than 100 faxes each month, online services may not save your business any money. That’s why Dataquest’s other numbers show traditional faxing sticking around for years to come. But the economy and manageability of Internet faxing will allow an increasing number of savvy home office workers to do without a fax machine.

COPYRIGHT 2000 CURTCO Freedom Communications

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