For some businesses, the looming year of 2025 is casting a rather dark shadow over the future of their communication.
Why? Because it’s the year national telecoms provider BT will finally cease its analogue phone line services, bringing to an end an era of legacy technology; the company is instead moving all services into the digital age. BT will also stop the sale of new analogue lines to businesses in 2020 — which means it won’t be long until they become completely inaccessible to a vast number of startups and emerging companies.
Also known as the PSTN and ISDN switch-off, you might be forgiven for thinking this is nothing but a positive for businesses. Why on Earth would relying on legacy communication technology be considered anything but detrimental to a modern brand?
We’ve got one word for you, and that word is fax.
Before we look at the problems the switch-off brings for fax communication, it’s important to consider other reasons you might not have analogue access for your business. As it turns out, BT’s decision to strike PSTN and ISDN from its service roster isn’t the only threat to your analogue functionality. There are a few other reasons that mean you may find yourself without an analogue line. It could have been removed for whatever reason; perhaps you’ve bought a property without one, or it may have been damaged and no longer works.
Why do you need an analogue line?
As already established, analogue technology is legacy technology. Made popular in the 1960s as a way of transmitting many different kinds of data, from fax documents to TV signals, analogue has slowly been phased out of nearly every facet of media in favour of digital alternatives, with the analogue phone lines provided by BT being one of the last bastions of this technology to go.
But just because this technology is old doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value for businesses.
Fax transmissions that run using an old-fashioned fax machine often require an analogue line in. Integrated with your landline via a simple cable, fax machines have been reliant on analogue systems since their inception. It’s a process you’ll know very well. Just as with plugging a phone into your network socket to allow communication, legacy fax functionality is achieved by connecting your hardware to an analogue line routed to your property. Without the analogue line, fax connectivity becomes a challenge.
It doesn’t matter what creates your lack of analogue connectivity, the result is the same: frustration. If fax communication is important to your business, being without an analogue line is going to cause problems.
Is it time to ditch the fax?
With analogue technology soon to be a thing of the past, does that mean you should start thinking about removing fax from your business as well?
The quick answer is no.
Fax remains an important method of communication for many businesses all over the world. 17 billion fax documents are transmitted every single year — sent from over 43 million fax machine units still operating. Totally giving up on fax places limitations on your capability to connect to millions of other businesses across the planet. It also eliminates your ability to take advantage of the numerous benefits fax offers over other communication systems, including legal authenticity of documents and file accessibility.
Cloud faxing: The only viable analogue line alternative?
A lack of analogue connectivity is going to place a strain on your ability to send fax documents, but your business wants to maintain this communication method. The next step is to look for alternatives that enable you to keep faxing without an analogue line.
The primary candidate for replacement is Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.
VoIP technology allows you to connect a legacy fax machine to the internet and submit and receive fax through digital technology. But this isn’t an ideal situation. There is a reason that BT is switching off PSTN and ISDN services and it’s because, like the fax machine, it is technology of a bygone era.
Maintaining a fax machine in the 21st century is not conducive to strong modern business management. The hardware presents your business with a host of disadvantages that not only impact productivity but also jeopardise security. With GDPR laws threatening your company with genuinely harmful consequences for non-compliance, it’s important to facilitate data protection methods that support true security, and fax machines do not offer that kind of support.
But if fax machines aren’t an option, what can you do? You can take advantage of this opportunity introduced by the death of analogue to develop your current tech platforms.
After analogue: How cloud faxing supports your business
As the removal of PSTN and ISDN forces you to make a change when it comes to fax technology, instead of taking the obvious route to VoIP — which offers continued operation but on an outdated platform — you can instead update your system to something that really makes sense.
Cloud faxing works by transmitting fax documents through online software and digital data protocols; it is the alternative your business organisation is looking for when there is no access to analogue lines. But how does it work, and how do you incorporate it if you are used to fax machines?
Cloud faxing does away with physical fax machines and instead moves your fax functionality to smart devices and computers, which is not as complicated as it might sound. The software involved in online fax services automatically reformats documents to be receivable and transmittable to fax machines, which means your business doesn’t need any new hardware to achieve complete fax communication coverage; you only need to download the software and applications designed by solutions providers.
To send faxes using a cloud-faxing solution, you simply attach a digital document to your transmission. If the document is paper, you can capture it via a smartphone camera for quick submission. It’s simple, easy and — most importantly — means you can carry on sending faxes without an analogue line or the outdated hardware associated with it.