CEO Commentary: Interview at ITEXPO East 2011

Commetrex’ CEO, Mike Coffee, was recently interviewed by Rich Tehrani of at ITEXPO East 2011 in Miami Beach and discussed Commetrex’ role on the FoIP Task force T.38 testing with i3 members.

In this interview, which is featured on Coffee highlights Commetrex’ patent-pending, “Smart FoIP” technology.

ITEXPO East 2011 Message: VoIP Service Providers Need Help With FoIP!

If we ever needed confirmation that the pressure is building for FoIP in carrier networks (and we don’t), the recent ITEXPO (2/2-2/4, Miami Beach) gave it to us. More than half the visitors to our booth, which featured “Smart FoIP” and other exclusive Commetrex fax products, were VoIP service providers that needed help with their FoIP deployments. The message was loud and clear. And, it didn’t matter whose equipment they were using, they needed help. This is important to our industry.

Now, you may wonder why I believe that’s important. Well, today, every established business has at least three modes of communicating with customers and vendors: voice, fax, and data, so service providers and carriers must support all three. (Video will soon be common.) As we all know, the Internet has reduced the use of voice and fax, but they are still around, and will be for decades to come, and voice even longer. But, for the balance of your professional life, carriers must transport real-time fax. So the transition to a global IP transport cannot be completed unless and until real-time fax is reliably supported.

In the 12 years since the T.38 standard for IP fax became available, its use in enterprise networks has become reliable and common. Last year, FoIP ports on fax servers exceeded the number of PSTN ports purchased on new systems. And now, businesses are moving to SIP trunking for their voice and fax service-provider interfaces, obviating the need for the IP-PSTN gateway. And those SIP-trunking service providers are peering with IP carriers. That’s where we are seeing the problems.

Even if they are interoperable, not all T.38 implementations perform equally. Results vary widely among vendors. But, for the most part, the problem isn’t T.38; it’s call set-up in SIP networks.

So, why should this be important to you? Well, if you are a VoIP service provider, you must deal with it every day. The same holds true if you are a carrier. If you are a vendor of ATAs or gateways, you are no doubt burdened by support calls. If you are a vendor of IP-based fax servers and you have customers with SIP trunking or direct SIP peering trying to use T.38, you know of what I speak. And if you are one of the 39 carriers that are members of the i3 Forum, I’m preaching to the choir.

But where can you turn for help? Commetrex, of course, “We Make FoIP Work”. We’ve been developing fax technologies and products for 20 years, and we’ve picked up some knowledge along the way. And now, we’re introducing Smart FoIP to help solve the problems. So, take advantage of us.

Call 1-770-449-7775 and enter “1” or e-mail

What Makes Smart FoIP “Smart”?

An understanding of the cause, if not the solution, of many of the problems being encountered when extending FoIP beyond the enterprise IP network is becoming widespread, as are the various schemes intended to do something about the problems. And, as is the case with any technology being newly deployed, there are many problems to choose from. T.38 is now over 12-years old, but its use at the intersection of service-provider and carrier networks is new, and that’s where we are seeing the “issues”, as we call problems today.

Once you get beyond interop and the usual plethora of configuration problems, you are mostly left with call set-up problems, and those have to do with successfully getting a T.38 session underway. We call that problem the “late T.38 re-invite problem.” Of course, if you can get beyond those problems, you also need a high-performance T.38 implementation that goes beyond being merely interoperable.

But the ability to solve these problems is rare as is a high-performance T.38, so some service providers are simply avoiding the problems associated with real-time IP fax in favor of non-real-time fax transport, such as HTTPS, a sort-of incremental store-and-forward technique. At least one major gateway vendor is using a timer to decide when to reject a T.38 re-invite since accepting one after too-long a delay will result in a call’s failure. And one server vendor simply forces a call to wait forever on the re-invite, even if it destroys the call, which happened in nearly 5% of the calls in a recent nationwide FoIP fax broadcast. Another server vendor doesn’t wait forever, but instead holds off sending any RTP after sending the fax calling tone (CNG) for several seconds to increase the odds of receiving a re-invite. And some service providers advise their subscribers to keep their POTS line for fax at $40.00 per month.

And then there’s “Smart FoIP”. It’s the one solution in the industrythat uses fool-proof patent-pending technology for ATAs, gateways, and Commetrex’ BladeWare. No timers are used in Smart FoIP, since that’s not smart. Instead, we use modems to track the state of the endpoint terminals, and, if they can’t be interrupted, we don’t do it.

Now, that’s smart!

Want to learn more about Smart FoIP? Call 1-770-449-7775 and enter “1” or e-mail

BladeWare Under Load

On a dual-core 3-Gig machine, BladeWare handles 60 transmit to 60 receive V.34 faxes, consuming less than 40-percent of the machine’s MIPS. For T.38 sessions that moves to 120 out to 120 channels in. But what happens when the machine gets an additional load and moves to 100-percent? Well, BladeWare is downright graceful.

BladeWare’s streams-processing environment is a licensed software product called OpenMedia. OpenMedia continuously monitors the timestamp on each buffer it processes and compares it to the wall-clock time. If the media processing falls more than one second behind, OpenMedia begins to shed load by shutting down sessions. Of course, your application gets the proper event, with an “I’m overloaded” reason code, but BladeWare keeps on truckin’. If it catches up, it stops shedding load.

Interested in BladeWare? Then, check out our new customer special offer and call 1-770-449-7775 and enter “1” or e-mail

Say Goodbye to Your Pricey Fax Boards

Last year, more enterprise fax-server ports on new systems were FoIP than PSTN. That still leaves nearly half the ports being fax boards. Fax boards? Are people still laying out good money for fax boards in this economy? Makes you wonder since a PSTN T1/E1 fax board from the market leader will set you back $15,000, while a Commetrex MSP-E/T PSTN Interface for BladeWare costs about $3,000, and that includes the software licenses for 24 V.34 fax ports.

Go figure.

So, if you’re in the market for fax boards, you know whom to contact: Commetrex. Call 1-770-449-7775 and enter “1” or e-mail

T.38 V3 with V.34?

If you have a PSTN-IP gateway with T.38 V3 and V.34, and it can establish both V.34 and V.17 connections with the gateway of another manufacturer, I want to know about it because I bet there aren’t any. Do you know of one? If you do, please let me know. I’d love to hear about it. There may be no gateways with T.38 V3 and V.34 fax from different manufacturers that are interoperable. No kiddin’. But how can that be, you say?

The reason for this state of affairs is technically complicated, but briefly, the SIP Forum’s FoIP Task Group only developed last year the procedures needed to handle all the possible combinations of V.17 and V.34 endpoints combined with gateways that do and don’t support V.34 , and, in the few short months that it’s been available, probably zero to none of the vendors have implemented it.

But Commetrex is close. We decided to integrate the new procedures into our Smart FoIP module. So, when you license Smart FoIP or BladeWare with SIP-based fax, you not only end up with a gateway that actually handles T.38 re-Invites correctly, but also one that handles V.34 correctly.

So, if you have questions or want to learn more, contact us at: