Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Faxes Aren't Fading to Black

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Faxes Aren't Fading to Black

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS -- In the age of email, you'd think that faxing was dead. But you'd be wrong. Fueled by a belief that fax is easier to use and harder to tamper with than email, faxes (short for facsimiles) are still widely used.

"Fax is the only guaranteed way to transmit something electronically," said Brent Lothrop, president of The Fax Guys, a Burnsville, Minn., reseller of Canadian-made RightFax software whose corporate customers include Medtronic and U.S. Bancorp. "That's why it's widely used to move documents in health care, where there are federal privacy rules."

Consider the fax's popularity: Medtronic says it sends and receives 20,000 faxes a day. U.S. Bancorp says it handles about 2 million fax pages a month. Thanks to steady annual growth of 15 percent or more, the worldwide fax market is projected to be nearly $2 billion this year, says Michigan-based Davidson Consulting.

Part of the love affair with faxing is that everybody understands how to use it, said Greg Osterdyk, chief technology officer of The Fax Guys. "Fax is easier and more reliable than email, and it's ubiquitous -- everybody knows what a fax machine is."

Another reason for the longevity of fax is that it's kept up with the times. Stand-alone fax machines are still common, but modern ones also double as printers and copiers. And in the corporate world, fax machines have given way to fax servers that deliver faxes electronically to individual PCs, just as email servers do. The process, called "fax over IP" (Internet protocol) transmits faxes to PCs as picture files.

"People have been predicting the end of the fax for more than 10 years," said Dan Natale, a senior system administrator at Medtronic, where faxing is used for everything from privacy-protected medical information to requests for bids. "But fax is growing, not just hanging on. The cost is low, it's easy to set up, and it works. You could set up a secure email system instead, but it would be very expensive."

"It looks like fax will be here for the long run," said Andy Waterous, assistant vice president for enterprise content management infrastructure at U. …

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