Carl Weinschenk spoke with Steve Adams, vice president of marketing for Protus. The company just introduced MyFax Internet fax services, which is aimed at business travelers.
Weinschenk: How important is the mobile segment to fax over IP sector?
Adams: Often the driver for entry is through mobile workers, teleworkers, home office workers and people on the road. The ability to receive a fax, particularly on the road, is a key driver for us and many of the major players. A fax comes in and is received at one or more e-mail addresses and also a Web site. That means it's accessible, and it also means it's private. The alternative to that is that it goes to a hotel desk, an office center or something like that. [A] message that has confidential information goes to public machines and is handled by several people before it gets to the proper recipient. In this day of privacy concerns, such as HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and compliance regulations, we really merge fax into the rest of the compliance operations. Finance and health care are two really important sectors. Others are those in which people travel a lot, such as consultants, teleworkers and sales people. Call centers is another key. If I had to guess, I'd say half our business [involves mobile workers].
Weinschenk: What is the key challenge to faxing over IP networks?
Adams: I think the predominant challenge is around scale and performance. It's a different problem to scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of users and particularly to ensure reliability and performance that eliminates any time lag from sending to delivery or the other way around. Quite often faxes sent around are time-sensitive and critical. One going astray or being delayed can be a critical issue. Maintaining reliable service and doing that on a large scale are the key challenges.
Weinschenk: How aware are people that they can fax over IP networks?
Adams: It's early awareness for most people. Fax often is a separate island of infrastructure and operations within a company. I think many people are surprised as to how much faxing goes on within a company. Departments such as operations, finance, legal, sales [and others] continue to rely on faxing. The predominant players are independent fax-oriented service providers. We've heard rumblings that larger service providers are entering the market, but they have not done so in any scale.