CEO Letter – Fax Servers for the SME?

It’s ironic that, to a point, the smaller the business the greater the productivity benefit of computer-based fax servers, yet the enterprise fax-server industry, for the most part, has been unable to develop a business model that addresses the needs and budget of the small business.

Until recently, the price of the enterprise-fax OEM’s product, at $4,000-plus, was quite simply out of the reach of a small business. Several factors are contributing to this valuable product finally finding the SME. Recent technical innovations have eliminated some of them, software-only pricing has taken care of others, and the VoIP service providers are finally doing their part. And the remaining ones vanish with a little marketing innovation.

SIP Forum’s FoIP Interop Workshop

The SIP Forum is responsible for good works such as the SIPit interop events, the SIPconnect SIP-trunking recommendation, and now T.38 interoperability. The first SIP Forum “T.38 Interoperability Workshop” was held on November 10 at the San Francisco W Hotel, which is across the street from the Moscone Center, site of the recent VoiceCon event. The four-and-one-half-hour meeting was attended by technical representatives of vendors serving the carrier and enterprise, as well as a smattering of service providers. Position papers were presented by AEMcom srl, Omnitor AB, and Commetrex. If you’re interested, the papers are posted at SIP Forum

A consensus quickly emerged that there were no significant T.38-interoperability problems. The problems seemed to be centered on the performance of some T.38 implementations, T.38 carrier uptake, and SIP-trunking accessibility. Between 2002 and 2004, Commetrex’ T.38 Interoperability Test Lab did a lot to advance interoperability. But that’s not the same as performance, which is an implementation’s ability to withstand the vagaries of the open Internet. Among the vendors, there seemed to be a division between those that were successful over the Internet and those that weren’t. Among the latter, there was even a question about T.38 itself, and whether it could achieve its aim of sending error-free faxes over the Internet. It was noted that the backbone IP carriers are finally building T.38 into their infrastructure, mainly by deploying Sonus GSX gateways, but many of the access providers—the legions of VoIP service providers—have yet to adjust by offering SIP trunking and handing off to T.38-only partners. Interested? Email Mike Coffee at or call him at 770-407-6021.

What Is T.30 Anyway?

Commetrex’ BladeWare media server and Multi-Modal Terminating Fax (MMTF) licensed media technology allow the user to send and receive both T.38 and G.711 pass-through faxes in media servers. Because we can terminate both forms of IP-fax transport, we get plenty of questions, such as, “Does BladeWare handle T.38 and T.30 IP faxes?” Of course, what they mean is G.711 pass-through, not T.30, because T.30 is the protocol that any fax terminal uses to send or receive a fax, regardless of how the fax is transported: PCM over TDM, T.38, or G.711 pass through. If your fax server is connected to an IP network you might have to be able to handle both T.38 and G.711 pass-through faxes. But regardless, T.30 is used in both cases as the terminating-fax protocol.

Want to learn more? Contact us at or 770-449-7775.

Does G.711 Pass Through Work?

There’s a lot of misinformation being put out by vendors that don’t support G.711 pass through on their media servers, so we thought we’d stop for a moment and set the record straight. The real answer to the G.711-pass-through question is “it depends”. You should only use T.38 to transport faxes over the “open Internet”; the modems that process the signal can’t overcome the missing packets. But there are many applications where the fax is transported via IP, but not over the open Internet. Commetrex’ VoIP access service provider, Cbeyond Communications, does not support T.38, but their private high- performance metro network delivers error-free G.711 faxes. Recently, a major telecom OEM customer of ours upgraded its TerminatingT38 software license to MMTF because they found that many of their enterprise customers wanted to use their PBX, which didn’t support T.38, as a gateway, avoiding the purchase of an additional network element…no open Internet, just the corporate LAN. Another example: you may want to use ATAs without T.38 support to connect in-house fax terminals to your corporate fax server. Not a problem if that fax server is based on BladeWare.

Want to learn more? Email Cliff Schornak or call him at 770-407-6027.

V.34 Fax Relay Now Shipping

It’s bound to happen. Sometime soon you’re going to get a requirement for a T.38 relay with V.34. Then, “Who ya gonna call?” Commetrex, that’s who. We’ve been shipping our V.34 and V.34-capable T.30 for a year, and now we’ve integrated the modem with our T.38 V3 protocol engine. So you don’t have to say “no” to that V.34 requirement. We’ll be glad to license the necessary technology to you.

Contact for more information.