Eric Wolfram's Directory, Internet Fax Services and On-line Fax Software

Internet Fax Services and On-line Fax Software

The Big picture In 2002, my business partner and I investigated on-line fax services. We wanted to send faxes from any of the web servers that we were running. We thought it would be nice to receive faxes as well.

We found many companies who provided fax/email or fax/web gateways. Our research on the companies we found is below. First, here's what we were looking for:

Our criteria for selecting a Fax provider

  1. Reliability - we'd love to find a provider than provides historical reports on its performance
  2. Finance - We don't want someone likely to go belly-up. They should be profitable, so that they're not going to discontinue the service.
  3. Generic interface - The programming interface must be standard; if we switch providers we don't want a big programming job. That's why email is so nice.
  4. Good web site - if we can get answers to all my questions on the web site then it saves me a lot of time
  5. Competitive pricing - it doesn't have to be the cheapest but it must be competitive
  6. Monthly fees - we'd prefer to pay per fax, and not pay a fixed monthly fee. If we pay a monthly fee, it would be cheaper if we don't have to have a new fax number for each customer. That means we need a way to discover the success/failure of an outgoing fax in a way that it can get routed to the right customer.
  7. Allow routing of incoming faxes - how can we send incoming faxes to the right customer?
  8. Success/failure code on a per fax basis - we want to be able to provide feedback to our customers on when a fax was sent
  9. Pricing is transparent - if they are upfront on their web sites about their pricing then we consider them to be a good business to deal with
  10. Programmer friendly API - we need a good explanation of how to interface to their fax service with a computer program, rather than as a user.
  11. Payments - it would be easier to pay by check than credit card (since we don't yet have credit cards)
Our Research on Internet Fax providers
They seam like they have their information is on the site. $.05/30 seconds of faxing. Here is the page for their email-fax service. Faxcube sends an email, but all the email goes to one account. Faxcube now redirects to Oracle has acquired the company and stopped providing On-Line Fax Services. Oracle says it will use faxcube technology inside its server product. Once a Premier service for efaxing. Too much spam from them -- too much subtrafuge. I couldn't figure out what the deal was. I subscribed to efax a long time ago. I had some problems with the service. I couldn't figure out why it kept failing. Their customer service displayed all the signs of headless chicken mode, including sending me massive amounts of junk email.
This seams like a good honest company. All their info is on their site -- pricing, features, documentation. I think we could sign up for an individual account and get everything we want working. We just need a credit card to do this. I'm going to call corporate sales, just in case it is worth us going for the more expensive account (800.906.4329): Allows signup by check for $100 (or credit card for $10). Cost is 10c/min with 1 minute minimum. No setup fees or extra charges. Company says that you can usually transmit 30 lines in 60 seconds. Corporate discounts are available if we start to get high volumes. Supports many document formats including MS Word and PDF. Changing the fax template costs $10. Can register sub-accounts which will allow us to have many different customers using one Faxaway account. Up to 250 email users allowed per account. Incoming faxes are, so we'd need a new account for each customer if we wanted to accept incoming faxes. Each fax sent gets a confirmation email. No information on how to parse this email using a computer program. Also, can use interactive commands to check on the status of a fax. It doesn't explain how incoming email addresses are authenticated. Can I just change the from field?
Corporate or something. Web site misses a lot of critical info like the prices. I don't think it is worth calling them because if they haven't got their act together to put it on the web site then they probably are going to fall down in other ways.
This site claims to be 100% free -- hmmm. It turns out that they're ad supported so we probably don't want to go that way. They could go out of business. I don't think that the costs of our faxes will be huge anyway.

This seams like an open source or volenteer fax service -- not too commurcial looking. They claim to be "service is a collection of FAX servers you may use to send a fax to many locations around the world." So...we're relying on volunteers to provide coverage? No saying that our faxes would actually arrive. But a nice service for people without any money.
This site has links to other sites about faxing in 2001. Then it turned into jfax and was not free. However, it looks like fax4free was bought or is owned by by 2005
This site seams to have RPM linux modules for efaxing over a regular modem.
Incoming fax number is in Sioux Falls, Iowa, unless you use Maxemail Plus. Incoming faxes can be TIFF or PDF. Also allows voicemail. Outgoing faxes can be sent via email or the web. Allows up to 5 different email addresses (we could have each Gnosio customer as a different email address). Maxemail plus allows multiple fax numbers per account. Supports multiple file formats includign .doc and .pdf. Maxemail Lite is $14.95 per year and 5c/30 secs. Maxemail Plus is $8/month, with $10 activation and 5c/30 secs. They seems to have a good FAQ but I haven't delved into it in detail.

We ended up going with Faxaway and they provided excellent service for many years.

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