With the proliferation of emails and web conferences, we often wonder if the old faithful fax machine has become a relic of the past. But that is not correct, and faxes have reinvented themselves through the concept of digital faxing. A facsimile has travelled a long journey over the years. It was a wonderful invention when it first burst on to the scene, and it used fixed telephone lines for transmitting written / printed information over long distances. The facsimile machine used to convert the image of the document into signals that could be transmitted through telephone, and once it reached the receiver's machine, that machine would again convert those signals back into printed matter. A telephone line is required for this kind of transmission, and it usually is a separate line from the one that is normally used to make and receive phone calls from the office. But now we have moved on from this kind of analog transmission to digital transmission. Most users also refer to it now as a fax instead of a facsimile. Let us understand the differences between the two.
The analog system of transmission, done using telephone lines, is a very robust process and the transmitted documents usually have very good quality. The scanned image of the document would be converted in to packets or pulses, and get transmitted to the receiving instrument, where the reverse process recombines those packets into the document's image. When it comes to present-day digital fax machines, the same transmission takes place using packets of binary data. Some ways in which digital transmission takes place is Voice over IP (VoIP) or Fax over IP (FoIP). Let us look at both types of fax machines and see what are the benefits of digital faxing compared to traditional fax machine.
- The first obvious benefit of digital faxing is in the cost savings it is able to provide. Like we mentioned earlier, a traditional fax machine would need a dedicated (preferably) phone line and also reams of paper to take the prints of the incoming transmissions. Most companies and businesses have a data pack that is very economical, therefore a large number of fax transmissions can be made using that package at a very minimal cost.
- Companies offering separate digital faxing standalone services often throw in for free a certain number of pages of transmissions. With a traditional fax machine those kind of negotiated packages are not possible, because the phone line charges have to be paid as per standard rates.
- A big advantage of digital faxing is that they can be sent and received from any location in the world. A traditional fax machine is bound to the specific office where the telephone set is set up.
- Digital faxes can be stored and preserved in soft copy after sending or receiving. When you receive a traditional fax, you need to store the paper transmissions in a designated file. A common issue with the traditional fax transmissions on paper is that the text often fades away if it is stored as it is received. So, a photocopy needs to be taken and the photocopy must be stored.
- It is now possible to send digital faxes using email ids. Not only that, multiple email is can be used for sending and receiving faxes. Not only that, even smartphones can be used as transmitting and receiving devices for faxes. In comparison, the traditional method of sending and receiving faxes needed a dedicated phone line and a facsimile machine.
- Phone lines, if not dead, would generally not have any fluctuations. That is the reason why analog fax transmissions are usually very clear. But digital transmissions of fax are dependent on the internet connectivity which sometimes varies in strength.