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FAX Adapters: How does a VoIP FAX Analog Telephone Adapter work?

The VoIP ATA for FAX is a powerful, cost-effective solution for customers who need to securely send and receive faxes using a traditional, analog fax machine—often needed for legal and privacy compliance such as HIPPA or FERPA.

The term "fax" is shorthand for the more technical word, facsimile, for the document transmission technology. The advent of ALL-IP fax solutions today, can reduce costs and streamline business communications. Many businesses have been able to replace their old-fashioned fax machines with paperless, all-electronic fax operations. However, lots of organizations must meet certain industry compliance stipulations, legal requirements, and other regulations that still demand the use of traditional paper fax machines. For such enterprises, although they need to keep the fax machine, they may not be able to use traditional analog phone line anymore. That's where the VoIP adapter comes to the rescue.

Sometimes called a fax machine adapter, a VoIP fax ATA converts the analog signal from a traditional fax machine into a packet-based, Internet Protocol (IP) data stream for transmission using voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. The VoIP Fax device may also be known as an analog telephone adapter (ATA): hence the term ATA for FAX. The most advanced and reliable method for converting an analog fax signal into a VoIP stream is a technology known as the T.38 protocol. That is why the most reliable fax-over-IP (FoIP) devices may sometimes be called a T.38 adapter.

Also known as a FaxJack or FaxBridge, a Single-Port adapter, such as the Patton SmartNode, can IP-enable a single traditional analog fax machine for secure encrypted use in a modern ALL-IP networking environment.


Show Me: ATA for FAX: Types of VoIP Fax Adapter Devices

Patton's SmartNode line of analog telephone adapters allow you to connect a traditional paper fax machine or 3-in-one printer to an internet telephony service provider (ITSP) over your internet connection. Using Internet FoIP you can entirely eliminate the need for an analog phone line. You can send faxes as you normally would and have them delivered to your email inbox or fax machine. SmartNode VoIP FAX solutions require almost no setup and send faxes securely using the T.38 FoIP protocol. It is engineered to deliver excellent quality fax service for a fraction of the cost of traditional phone lines.

Single-port ATA for FAX

FAX adapter, ATA for fax, voip fax adapter

The Patton SmartNode SN200 Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) provides one analog FXS port, making it ideal for a home office, small office, or remote/branch office that operates just one fax machine. The single FXS port interconnects one analog fax machine with your IP telephony system.

The SN200 supports SIP—an open communications protocol. That means it interoperates seamlessly with a broad selection IP unified communication services and devices. Call waiting, call forwarding, high-quality sound, many other features are all included in the advanced software.

FAX adapter, ATA for fax, voip fax adapter

The device converts the analog fax signal into a packetized Internet protocol (IP) data stream for transmission over a voice-over-IP (VoIP) service network. Patton's SN200 provides seamless access to Internet telephony and data services. The M-ATA connects to any broadband access provider via a cable or xDSL modem.

Multi-Port FXS FAX Adapters

Unlike the single FXS adapters, a multi-port FXS VoIP adapter will enable you to connect two or more devices to your IP network. Such a device can integrate several analog phones and fax machines into your on-premise VoIP system.

With a two-port model, such as the Patton SmartNode SN102 or the SN200/2JS2V this can be two phones or a phone and a fax machine. If you cannot limit the number of devices you want to connect to just one, a dual FXS adapter will be a logical choice for you.

FAX adapter, ATA for fax, voip fax adapter

With a four-port device, such as the SN200/4JS4V (shown above), the options are more varied, as seen in the network diagram below.

The SN200 supports the open SIP communications protocol, which interoperates with a broad selection of VoIP vendors and platforms.

Migrating and Maintaining Fax-over-IP in ALL-IP Unified Communications Environments

When an organization wants to transition to ALL-IP unified communications with SIP trunking, Patton offers an ideal solution that supports a hybrid network during the migration phase. The SmartNode SN4140 can function as a FAX and VoIP gateway for PSTN connectivity—yet it can later be upgraded to an enterprise session border controller.

The flexibility of the Patton device in this regard is unusual in the IP communications industry. More to the point for this discussion, the device provides analog fax connectivity for up to four legacy fax machines, with unparalleled reliability for T.38 fax-over-IP.


Teach Me: ATA for FAX: How do fax adapters work?


The fax adapter (VoIP gateway) connects to an analog fax machine by emulating an analog line. It converts analog T.30 fax signaling and image data into digital form, which is transported to the remote side over an IP connection using either Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) G.711 or the newer and more reliable T.38 protocol. The device on the remote side may be a FoIP-enabled T.38 fax machine or another gateway that converts the received IP data back to T.30 for transmission to the fax machine (as depicted in the diagram below).

For reliable FoIP, two things are essential:
  • a reliable VoIP gateway that supports T.38 fax on the WAN side and T.30 fax on the LAN side
  • an experienced T.38 fax service provider with an end-to-end T.38 network.

FoIP Challenges: Considerations for Implementing Fax over IP

One of the challenges with implementing FoIP is reliable transmission and reception. Most existing FAX machines do not work, or do not work well once you adopt IP Telephony. New challenges introduced by the IP revolution can cause a fax call to fail. FAX was designed for analog networks and cannot travel over a digital VoIP network. FAX communication uses the analog signal differently than legacy voice communication. Similarly, when VoIP technologies digitize and compress analog voice communication, the signal is optimized for voice—not FAX. That means, things can get tricky when you decide to migrate to a VoIP phone system. Digital (packetized) fax data is still subject to network impairments as is VoIP. For a list of IP network characteristics that can break your FAX-over-IP service, see the blog post:

>> What's wrong with Fax-over-IP?

One very reliable cloud-fax solution is the SmartNode cloud-fax service by Patton and babyTel. The service offers the following features:
  • Easily Connect any Fax Machine to the Cloud-Fax Services
  • Optional On-Board HIPAA-compliant Encryption
  • Bundled Hardware, or. . .
  • Unbundled Fax Lines

You can review the Patton and babyTel cloud fax plans at www.patton.com/cloud-fax/our-plans.asp

Fax Adapters
SmartNode, SN200
Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) & VoIP Gateway
SmartNode, SN4140
Analog VoIP Gateway | 2, 4 or 8 analog ports for up to 8 phone or fax calls
SmartNode, SN4740
Analog High Density Gateway | 16 to 128 ports
Sales: sales@patton.com / +1 301 975 1000
Support: support@patton.com / +1 301 975 1007
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