Fax machines are still operating in many churches. When churches move to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, they often have the hardest time letting go of fax technology.
Fax is a digital scan. The difference is in how it is transmitted—or, rather, in how it used to be transmitted.
Fax machines connect to telephone lines, and those phone lines that are older are referred to as “plain old telephone service” (POTS) lines. POTS lines are like those that once connected homes and businesses via copper cables, and they are analog. But analog lines have been in the process of being replaced with digital lines for some time, and now most homes and businesses are connected by digital lines: the same lines the internet connects over.
When fax technology was younger, it only transmitted over analog lines. But more recently, faxes transmit their digital images over digital lines, just like email.
Since faxes and emails both transmit digital images over the same digital communication lines, emailed scanned attachments are the natural successor to faxes.
Many churches say they still need to maintain analog fax lines because their bank or some other authority requires them to use fax technology. However, those lines cost hundreds of extra budget dollars per year and shouldn’t be necessary.
For churches in this situation that don't have fax technology, I recommend telling those who insist on the use of fax that the church no longer has that ability: that all optional analog lines have been disconnected and that the church no longer has a fax machine. Let them know whatever they need can be scanned and sent as an email attachment, and that church staff can receive email scan attachments.
Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, an IT consulting firm specializing in church and ministry computer networks, VoIP, and private cloud hosted services. He is author of Church IT: Strategies and Solutions.
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