One of the issues we have discussed on the IridiaBlog in the past has been Fax over IP (FoIP) or rather problems encountered and lack of general support. We are pleased to see the SIP Forum has published an official Fax over IP Problem statement and setup a Task Group to examine the problem further.
The SIP Forum has chartered the FoIP Interoperability Task Group to investigate interoperability issues with the deployment of fax services, specially the use of the ITU-T Standard T38 in SIP networks. The issues surrounding IP based fax and the use of T38 make it difficult for users to determine if T38 can or will work reliably and thus offer an alternative to traditional TDM-based fax transport. We often see customers deploying a TDM circuit just for fax.
While the T38 protocol, first approved by the ITU-T in 1998, was designed to allow fax machines and computer-based fax to carry forward in a transitioning communications infrastructure of both IP and TDM-based telephony, today there are enough problems and confusion among vendors, system integrators, and service providers to significantly slow the use of IP as a real time fax transport.
The FoIP Task Group Problem Statement details the problems the task group has chosen to address. Some of the issues the SIP Forum’s FoIP effort will deal with include:
- Interoperability failures seen in the field or lab
- Reliability or quality issues seen in the field or lab
- Deployment experiences
- Development experiences
- Architectural principals
- Proposals for achieving a higher degree of FoIP interoperability and/or FoIP reliability
- Proposals for soliciting additional real world feedback from implementers and service providers
We are really pleased to see a respected body like the SIP Forum taking an issue like this head on as many businesses still use or rely heavily on fax communication.
The Statement document is available for download Here. or visit the SIP Forum site Here
We like the FreePBX product and it is excellent the way Bandwidth.com have sponsored the future development, we see that they have now announced a Developer Sandbox Program in order to accelerate development of next-generation applications for IP communications. The intended initial focus of the program will be to enable a select group of telephony focused developers to join Bandwidth.com’s internal pilot projects that are focused on:
- IP communications network functionality, such as next-generation VoIP codecs, T38 fax protocol, SIP enabled SMS, and HD voice
- Fixed-mobile convergence functionality, such as sharing one number across both mobile and landlines and unique new telephony applications
- Open source telephony, focused on FreePBX
Bandwidth.com’s approach is to catalyze the next generation of telephony applications by the powerful combination of open source telephony software (FreePBX), open access to Bandwidth.com’s own VoIP network sandbox, and unique industry partnerships, that allow developers to employ some of the newest telephony innovations.
We also see that at the same time they are announcing a developer release of FreePBX v3 as well as a Beta release of FreePBX v2.6, so it obvious the product is moving forward and their developers have been busy.
For more information go to FreePBX.
In a previous post we discussed about Fax support not being dead on IP systems and we see that Asterisk has now added improved fax working to it’s portolio of solutions with the addition of Fax for Asterisk software.
Users can download software from Digium’s online store. It is free for installations requiring only one fax session at a time, while multiple session licence is available for extra cost per simultaneous channel. The software allows faxing to and from the PSTN and IP telephony networks.
If the Asterisk IP PBX in question uses analogue PSTN line cards, the software sends faxes through those. It supports V.17, V.27 and V.29 fax modems, and operates at speeds of up to 14.4 Kbps. If the IP PBX installation uses an IP telephony service, the software will then use the T.38 protocol (if the provider supports it). Users send and receive faxes in the form of TIFF image files.
Fax is one of those technologies that will not go away so IP PBX vendors are being pushed by market forces to produce a solution and it is good to see Digium respond.