Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fun With Faxs

Been doing some work this week trying to get a faxing solution working using our VOIP (voice over ip) systems. We were trying to come up with a solution we could use as a group, that would allow users to have there own number for clients to send to, and the fax would be delivered to the user as an email.

We read up about fax over IP, it does exist but apparently its not very good, the line has to be clean with no noise otherwise the fax machines cant handle the call. Due to the fact we would be using the VOIP network we decided not to pursue this route, and to attach an ATA device to the VOIP network and then to a normal analogue modem. The ATA just lets you use normal analogue phone/faxs/modems on the VOIP network.

What we then wanted to test, was if we could get caller ID information out of the modem, the idea being that if caller ID was working then we should be able to get out the number the customer has called, so we know where to route the email.

Using a Hyperterminal session to the modem, we called the modem. If the caller ID is being passed then, between the first and second ring the caller ID info should pop up. This is where the real fun began.

The first few times we rang it nothing came through. Doing a bit of research, quite a lot of modems didn't support caller ID in the UK, and most of them didn't have the feature turned on by default. Looking round the web, we found a couple of commands to try on the modem to turn on caller ID, they were


After now managing to turn it on, we rang the modem, and hey presto the caller id came through! Just as we thought we were getting somewhere we found another problem. If we rang the modem, hung up and rang it again within about 5-6 seconds the caller id didn't come up. Wait about 15 secs and it worked again. We tried this with two different modems and the same things happened again.

So the caller id was'nt very reliable going over the VOIP network and through the ATA box. We then got the VOIP guy to try and get it to send the called number anyway, he turned it on, we sent a fax but the info didn't come through to Windows Fax services. At this point we started to realise our idea might not work very well.

Next week we will probably play about with it a bit more, but looks like we are going to have to do it another way. The other ideas we have or try and use Fax over IP to see how well it actually does work, you get get some modules for Hylafax etc so we might try that. The most likely option i think we will do is use a ISDN30 , attach the lines to that and put a card in the server. We know this option works as one of our other centre's currently uses this method.

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