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VoIP vs FoIP - How to Choose the Best Service for Your Business

Since the inception of high-speed internet, it’s becoming more and more common to see businesses make the switch to Internet Protocol (IP)-based communication systems in VoIP and FoIP software. This growth is reflected in the amount of VoIP telephone lines for businesses, which has increased from around 6 million in 2010 to over 36 million in 2017 (1). As VoIP and FoIP offerings increase, many businesses aren’t aware of the differences, benefits, and takeaways of each service.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology that allows users to make voice calls over an internet connection like Skype, WhatsApp or Google Phone. Businesses have widely adopted VoIP because of the many natural advantages it has over traditional phone service.

FoIP (Fax over Internet Protocol) technology, on the other hand, allows for transmitting faxes over IP networks. Although Fax over IP is about the same age as VoIP, companies haven’t adopted it at the same rate as VoIP. This is mostly due to a lack of awareness that focusing on improving lesser-known technologies can actually result in a more expansive selection of stellar offerings in the market, especially for larger deployments.

As bandwidth becomes more readily available and carriers have the time to invest in improving IP network infrastructure, deciding to switch to IP based communications is a no-brainer for most. Here is an outline of some of the advantages and disadvantages related to both VoIP and FoIP software.

Advantages of VoIP services


Proprietary phone systems are traditionally expensive and cumbersome for businesses to install and maintain. Reconfiguring and scaling up as your business grows becomes a headache for administrators. VoIP phone systems offer numerous advantages over older systems including:

(1) Cost-effectiveness compared to traditional phone service which requires a physical analog line for every line of service.

(2) Most VoIP providers offer numerous built-in features such as call recording, call waiting, auto-attendant, call forwarding, mobile apps, and unlimited nationwide calling.

(3) Some services provide fully hosted PBX systems - meaning there is no physical hardware to install or maintain on-premise other than the phones themselves.

(4) Can be used without telephones at all. Many providers offer service compatible with softphones (desktop software) and calling through mobile apps, further reducing start-up costs.

(5) Very scalable. Can easily provision new numbers and users.

Disadvantages of VoIP services


(1) Requires high internet bandwidth for superior call quality

(2) Can suffer from packet loss and latency

(3) Contingent on power and internet, if either is down, phone service is down

(4) High variance in quality between providers

Generally speaking, the advantages of VoIP clearly outweigh the disadvantages. The most prominent debate is choosing between a fully hosted service, an on-prem PBX, or a hybrid solution. Many industries previously reluctant to embrace fully hosted offerings are beginning to move to the cloud. We believe this trend will continue.

Now let’s take a look at Fax over IP.

FoIP works over T.38. T.38 protocol is the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) recommendation for real-time transmission of faxes over IP networks.

It was designed to allow fax to work over VoIP network and enables raw data transport (packetized).

In theory, T.38 is a solution for those looking to move faxing from POTS lines to an IP network. In practice though, there have been quite a few challenges with adoption of T.38. We have broken down the advantages and disadvantages below.

Advantages of FoIP services


(1) More cost-effective than dedicated analog fax lines

(2) Allows for faxing without the need for clunky old fax machines (Email to Fax, Fax APIs, fax by web portal)

(3) Some services offer centralized administrative controls

(4) Can help with security and compliance (i.e. automatic cloud storage, audit trails, user authentication for HIPAA, SOX, PCI-DSS, and many others)

(5) Some services provide fax adapters and cloud connectors for MFPs, allowing you to use physical fax devices without the need for POTS lines

(6) Can be integrated and automated with existing software using APIs

(7)  Can massively reduce the need for paper, ink, & toner (environmentally friendly)

Disadvantages of FoIP services


(1) On-premise solutions (fax servers) can be quite expensive

(2) Fewer quality providers to choose from (many fax services are owned by the same company (J2))

(3) High variance in reliability between providers

While there are many quality VoIP offerings to choose from, choosing a hosted FoIP provider can still seem a bit daunting. Documo created mFax as a solution to the above disadvantages and gives businesses an obvious solution for improving document processes connected to fax.

We also previously wrote about the stigma surrounding FoIP technology.

Documo developed mFax, a cloud fax solution that is:

- Ultra-reliable

- Secure & compliant (including with HIPAA, GLBA, SOX, & PCI)

- Scalable to any need

- Able to be integrated into practically any application or workflow

- Developed with a modern and easy-to-use interface

- Cost effective (save up to 50% vs leading brands)

- Backed by superb 24/7 US-based customer support

- Includes a robust admin feature set

If you’re considering switching fax providers or are looking at cloud services for the first time, you’ve come to the right place. Sign up for a free 14-day trial or contact a fax expert for more information.