A window into the technology and business of fax...

Introducing SSL Fax: internet fax for real


Practically all fax servers today have two different types of network connections: the phone line (which connects in some way to the Public Switched Telephone Network or “PSTN”) and an IP network (or internet). These days the internet is a very good place to communicate data quickly. However, the phone line continues to be considered more secure and is a protected class of communications (e.g. the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in the USA).

SSL Fax provides fax servers with the best of both networks: secure, protected, and quick data communication all in one.

SSL Fax works by initiating a fax communication as it traditionally would, through a telephone call. The receiving fax system answers the calls, and the two fax endpoints pass some signals between each other. This is normal. Among those signals, however, a fax server with SSL Fax support will indicate this to the other end, and one or both of them may enable the other to additionally connect to it on an encrypted channel through the internet.

If the other SSL Fax server chooses to utilize that encrypted internet channel, then the rest of the fax operation can happen quickly through that internet connection. If not, then the fax will continue as it traditionally would.

The result of a fax that utilizes SSL Fax can be dramatic improvements in communication speed and reliability. For instance, a large document of hundreds of pages could be communicated in mere seconds instead of hours. The time required to get through the initial fax handshaking through to an SSL Fax connection takes approximately ten seconds. From there the communication speed is only limited to the internet connection speed.

SSL Fax also greatly mitigates the problems caused by poor audio quality on the phone lines (perhaps because of VoIP). The initial ten seconds or so of handshaking can usually make it through even the poorest of expected conditions. The part that is hard for poor phone line audio quality is completely shifted onto the internet connection.

Meanwhile SSL Fax retains the convenience of a fax number that can be shared publicly, continues to work with traditional fax equipment in traditional ways, and retains its legal protections.

Mainpine’s IQFSP software, for use exclusively with Mainpine IQ Express fax boards now supports SSL Fax. There is no additional configuration required. SSL Fax is supported and enabled by default.