Wholesale Fax Service

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

23rd February 2010

A while back we announced an upgrade to our long offered fax-to-email service, notably enhancements to the e-mail side of it and the ability to instead have faxes posted to your system. This has proved popular and now the majority of faxes received on the network are handled in this way. Our customers then add value with their own fax-to-email service under their own brand, archiving, web access etc. etc. This remains a no-cost option on all our numbering.

Today we complete the circle and are delighted to announce the beta release of our wholesale outbound fax service.

It operates entirely and exclusively through our API, enabling customers to post fax jobs with multiple recipients and/or attachments. There are no bells and whistles such as email-to-fax, we leave those for our customers to innovate as they have done so expertly on the inbound service. Instead, we’ve concentrated on the raw engine ensuring faxes get delivered as quickly and reliably as possible.

We have priced this for wholesale. At retail a cost per page of 5/6p is common, with multiples of ‘pages’ applying for certain destinations and failed transmissions. That just doesn’t add up to us so instead our pricing is simple and crystal clear: we will charge for the minutes consumed in sending the fax at our standard wholesale rates but will add a premium to the per minute rate. That premium is set according to the priority flagged on the fax, enabling different customers to offer different service levels. Taking our ‘standard’ priority the premium is just 3p per minute, putting a peak rate UK landline fax at just 3.49p/min. In our tests this would enable our customers to compete price wise with the major online fax providers and make margins unheard of in the voice market – we estimate 5/6p per page to equate to 13-16p/minute for text.

However, we don’t consider the main market for our customers to be the existing clients of the existing online fax providers. Instead we see this service closing the loop on VoIP and virtual PBX offerings. We know of lots of customers in this space who have migrated SMEs to VoIP but have left one or more phone lines up a corner with a fax machine connected. Even if they have also migrated them to direct to desk inbound services, their customer continues to pay line rental and consumables for legacy hardware which can now be dispensed with. The existing fax number can be ported if necessary and a service deployed based on our outbound service. We believe the business case to be undeniable!

Those who dismiss fax as dead should consider that the volume of fax minutes sent globally continues to climb and is higher than fax’s hay-day in the mid 1980’s. With 55% of emails being deleted without being read, businesses are returning to fax for the delivery of important documents and marketing. Just as radio thrived despite television, town centres continued to thrive despite the onslaught of e-commerce, cinemas continued to thrive despite home cinema, fax will be with us for a good while yet. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t evolve and we consider Fax-over-IP to be a lucrative yet niche market in whatever form our customers choose to present it. Our wholesale fax services offer the perfect toolkit for that.

As you might tell this is something we’re pretty excited about and we hope you’ll share that. Personally I’d be delighted to hear your feedback and the amazing things you intend to do with this. I’m confident fax is going to become a big part of our business and hopefully yours too.

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