Need to Send a Fax?

Even in this modern email-centric world, being able to send a a FAX every now and then is pretty handy.  But, most of us no longer have FAX machines in our home offices, and even some traditional offices are doing away with them.

To help move this trend along, and to add a bit more value to your Sonic.net service, we have deployed a new tool which lets you transmit FAXes from pdf text files for at no charge, nationwide. You can find the new ‘Send A Fax’ tool under in the new Labs menu in our Member Tools. Direct link: https://members.sonic.net/fax/

Obviously if you have a paper document that you want to FAX, you need to be able to turn it into a PDF first! This allows you to sign a paper contract or fill out a form, then scan it to a PDF file to send via email or via the new FAX feature. A dual-sided sheetfed scanner makes this easy. (Editor: After going “paperless”, Dane Jasper’s preference is the Fujitsu ScanSnap: http://amzn.to/eh8tRS The ScanSnap scans both sides of multi-page documents, using optical character recognition to create full-text searchable PDFs for storage. And, it’s fast!)

Our “Labs” area is a new section of the Member tools, and we plan to add more features there soon. Tools from the Labs menu will come in a couple of flavors.  Some, like Send A Fax, are early releases that we’d like customers to be able to use now but which may either be a beta release or lack final polish.  For example, the notifications from the fax tool aren’t formatted yet.  Other Labs features like IPv6 Tunnels are not supported by our telephone technical support group for practical reasons, and they are offered “as is”.

Please keep an eye on the Labs menu, we have several new services in the pipeline that we hope to roll out for customers over the next few months. It is part of our ongoing mission to deliver you more features, most available free.

44 comments for “Need to Send a Fax?

  1. Trevor
    March 31, 2011 at 11:01 am

    How about “receive a fax”? Sending is great, but I’m looking for a way to receive the occasional fax…

  2. Michael Ross
    March 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Nice addition.

    Will we see incoming fax numbers soon?

    As well, outgoing faxes to international numbers?

    Cheers,
    Michael

  3. March 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I recently deployed an 8 line hylafax rig for our use. Are you using hylafax with asterisk/IAXmodem(s)?

    If you’re using hylafax, can customers queue/sendq via a particular ip:4559? That would be extremely helpful.

    Thanks!

  4. Kelsey
    March 31, 2011 at 11:41 am

    We hope to launch an incoming fax to email services shortly. One line will be free (with a qualifying access product) and additional lines will be available for a reasonable price. International faxing isn’t out of the question but is significantly complicated by needed to apply usage charges.

  5. dane
    March 31, 2011 at 11:45 am

    @eric,

    Our goal is to meet the occasional FAX transmission needs of our access customers, so the browser interface is the method we are exposing. Our solution is not intended for extreme high volume FAXing.

    -Dane

  6. Kelsey
    March 31, 2011 at 11:49 am

    We are using FreeSWITCH and have it connected to our voice core and will eventually use T.38 hand off to/from our upstream providers. We’re not likely to offer integration beyond what you see in the membertools. But we will have support for multiple inbound lines that may or may not satisfy your needs.

  7. March 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Totally understand, my users have sent 7,500~ faxes in the past month. Was looking to offload some of that.

    Keep up the great work! 🙂

  8. Michael Ross
    March 31, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks Kelsey. I’d be glad to beta test the incoming line service…

    Small comment. The huge Sonic.net logo on the cover page is misleading for faxes that are not sonic official business. The workaround is to create our own cover page within the PDF and say “no cover page” I suppose…

  9. dane
    March 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Michael,

    Yes, clearly – we will be updating the cover page shortly! It should have a small “powered by Sonic.net FAX gateway” on it, but won’t look like it’s from Sonic.net.

  10. March 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I guess this doesn’t work for legacy Fusion subscribers (with no voice line)? I tried it and no fax was received on the other end.

    If no, any way you could allow the feature for customers like me?

  11. dane
    March 31, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    @Tristan, this feature is available for everyone. Check the status page to see what if your FAX was sent.

  12. March 31, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    @Dane – That’s great! The status just says “in in queue”. Not sure how long it’s supposed to take? Should be nearly instant though IMO if possible.

  13. March 31, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    It’s been like 45 minutes I think. Still no fax received, Is that normal?

  14. dane
    March 31, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    @Tristan, no, something is amiss. We will give it a look. The potential for bugs is one reason this is part of our “Labs” section.

  15. Kelsey
    March 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    @tristan, queue kicked. It turns out pdf conversion is more problematic than originally thought.

  16. March 31, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks Dane.

    By the way, for anyone on OSX, it’s super easy to create a PDF from anything you can print. Just go to print and in the print dialog box, press “PDF”.

  17. bbmak
    April 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Is this service free?
    I was hoping incoming fax too.
    In addition, I was hoping a better billing system. It is better to be in PDF form instead of text form.

    However, this is real nice to notice that Sonic are improving the services.

  18. dane
    April 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    @bbmak, Yes, the FAX service is free for customers. We’re working on inbound. Regarding bills, we will be making them more presentable and easily readable soon too!

    -Dane

  19. spongman
    April 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    this is great! and the incoming fax service will be useful, too! will we be able to receive faxes on our existing line? or will it require a new number?

  20. dane
    April 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Inbound service is still in development, so we don’t have any information we can provide on that yet.

  21. Kelsey
    April 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks! The inbound fax service will be associated with a new phone number.

  22. Rowanning
    April 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Dane’s recommendation of the Fujitsu SnapScan is probably a good one for Windows users, but for Mac users, my extensive research indicates that the competing Epson GT-S50 is probably a better choice, largely due to Epson’s current (and historical) better driver support for OS X.

    Also, the GT-S50 is supported by the widely-used and very good “VueScan” shareware scanner driver/interface software made by Ed Hamrick, http://www.hamrick.com. According to Ed’s reports and testing, the Epson GT-S50 works at full scanning speed with Mac OS X.

  23. EPS
    April 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Fujitsu had a booth at Macworld Expo this year. Epson didn’t. Hmm…

  24. Michael Ross
    April 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Rowaninng, research on paper will only get you so far. I have used both scanners with the Mac. Epson driver software has always been a big pile of steaming dog do. Even under Mac OS 10.6, Epson has processes running under Rosetta, i.e. non Intel native, i.e. crash and freeze city.

    No, the Fujitsu doesn’t have TWAIN drivers, but proprietary software which is flawless and Intel native.

    VueScan’s OCR is horrible. Fujitsu’s ScanSnap Manager integrates it into the PDFs seemlessly.

    I strongly recommend the Fujitsu–it’s been happily churning out PDFs all day on my Mac right here.

  25. Rowanning
    April 9, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I appreciate Michael Ross’s comments.

    My concern with the Fujitsu is that the company won’t support it over the long haul, i.e. 3 or 4 years down the line (maybe even sooner) they’ll stop updating the driver for new releases of Mac OS X, making the hardware into a paperweight.

    Whereas, the Epson unit is likely to be supported by VueScan for as long as VueScan itself continues to be around, likely 5 or 10 years, maybe longer.

  26. Michael Ross
    April 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I appreciate Rowanning’s appreciation. 🙂

    I have real issues with VueScan. Mac OS 11 is going to break everything anyway. Eventually Hamrick may surface and actually be somewhat useful, but there’s no sure thing in the software world.

    The OCR in Vuescan is absolutely useless, which means it is not meant for scanning-as-filing-cabinet applications. VueScan was developed for graphic applications of scanning. Its UI (yes the new one too) looks like it was created for a Mac Plus. (A software engineer’s ability to design a good UI is directly proportional to the quality of their sex life–they seem to be subconsciously trying to inflict their frustrations on the rest of the world.)

    Companies like Epson and Fujitsu don’t support hardware past 3 years because this is the built-in obsolescence of the products. Chances are 99% of both Epson or Fujitsu scanners will no longer be extant in 3 years. They are going to be paperweights whether there is working software or not. Anyone buying hardware today (Mac or scanner or otherwise) should be factoring in product life at around 3 years and planning a steady flow of purchases in time accordingly.

    I really am not one to be easily impressed (you had probably figured that one out), but the Fujitsu was plug and play from the get-go and is, well, impressive in accomplishing the simple things it sets out to do.

    And by the way, this just in from the Vuescan support page for the Epson GT-S50:
    “You need to install an Epson scanner driver to use this scanner on Windows and Mac OS X.”
    Oops. You mean that very same Epson software that will not be supported in two years’ time? 😉

    The real issues here: Epson is 10 images per minute (5 duplex pages) faster at scanning (although not having seen the Epson OCR at work, it could well lose this advantage and then some once this is factored in) and $70 cheaper on the street than the Fujitsu. Is this enough to warrant daily headaches grappling with software that slows the entire Mac down and creates memory leaks in Rosetta, even when using Vuescan? That’s a personal decision everyone has to make for themselves…

  27. Michael
    April 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Please keep the default e-mail invoice text or at the very least give the user the option to op-out. Nothing at all wrong with the KISS principle. Also, some Sonic e-mail correspondence was sent HTML and that was promptly rejected on purpose. I’d hate to miss a invoice because of prettification. 🙂

  28. dane
    April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Michael,

    With regards to billing/invoice/receipt from Sonic.net, you can expect this to become a PDF in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to offer both a txt and pdf version – but there will be a viewer on the website, with summary information, and a way to view the PDF & details.

    -Dane

  29. Michael
    April 22, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I’ve been printing out a text invoice and mailing a check back on time for 10 years. How is a PDF going to improve this? It won’t. IMO, the total discontinuance of text, for a bloated, exploitable and faddish format, is disappointing.

  30. dane
    April 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    @Michael,

    I certainly understand the sentiment. I share your fondness for plain text, and dislike HTML email, etc. That said, the complexity of our product offerings today has outgrown the layout capabilities of a basic text-only invoice. With the launch of Fusion with voice, and multi-line service, voice usage, taxes and fees, etc, it’s just not best done in plain text.

    -Dane

  31. igor sviridov
    April 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    How about email -> fax service?
    (member would register a few From: addresses; obviously From: can be faked, but considering the cost abuse is unlikely).

    –igor

  32. dane
    April 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    @igor,

    No, we don’t have any plans to add an email interface. Clearly, authentication is one issue, the other is that the task can be accomplished via the web form, so now that the deliverable is complete, it’s better for us to move on to development of other capabilities such as inbound FAX delivery. Also, the web interface is clearly and easily understood by all, so there’s no customer training about special email addresses which “magically” turn into FAX, etc.

    -Dane

  33. Judi
    April 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Do I need to have a land line to use Sonic’s services?

  34. Kelsey
    April 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    No, the Send a Fax tool is available to all users including mailbox only accounts.

  35. Steve
    May 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

    For incoming faxes, check out faxaway.com. It costs $1 per month, but there is no per page charge for incoming. Outgoing is available as well, but there is a per minute charge for it, so may as well use Sonic for outgoing. You get a phone number with a 206 area code.

  36. Rowanning
    May 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I second the Faxaway.com suggestion. I’ve been using their service for a few months and find it very reliable, convenient, and affordable.

    Their website doesn’t look very encouraging– it could use a re-design — but in my experience their service is good.

  37. Kelsey
    May 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Our inbound FaxLine service should be ready for beta testing in a couple of weeks. It will be free to all subscribers with Fusion service.

  38. May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Awesome Kelsey!

    I currently use OneSuite for inbound fax number. It’s also $1.00 a month I believe but would be nice to be able to get rid of that.

  39. June 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Kelsey, Thanks for the great news. I’m currently on AT&T and I have their Unified Messaging which can handle unattended incoming faxes.

    This is the only thing holding me back from switching to Sonic.net.

  40. Jerome Kaidor
    June 11, 2011 at 4:33 am

    WRT: PDF versus plain text.

    I am vastly prejudiced in favor of plain text for one simple reason – I can stick all the plain text emails in a single queue and then grep through it for things I want. PDF – no way. Especially if it’s just a PDF image.

    WRT: Web interface for outgoing faxes

    It shouldn’t be too hard to write a Linux or Windows driver to take an outgoing document and squirt it out to the website. Well – Linux – piece of cake. Windows – not so sure. Writing a Windows printer driver is not trivial, although the DDK is available for free.

    IMHO an email interface would not be a good thing. Email is not secure. People tend to assume that fax is a one-to-one relatively secure connection.

    – Jerry Kaidor

  41. phototristan
    June 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I’m really liking this feature!

    My Grandparents are not very computer/email savy and only turn on their computer about once a week. But they know how to check the fax machine. 😉

    They have been enjoying receiving my faxes vs. struggling with email and have even told me as much.

  42. Hank Roberts
    April 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    a year goes by like nothing — is it possible to scan into the system and email myself or someone else the resulting PDF file?

  43. Kelsey
    April 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Hank, I’m a little confused by that question. If you have a scanner, there is a good chance it can scan to pdf already or that you could open the resulting images and ‘print to pdf’ and then email that. Perhaps you should check out the forums?

  44. January 3, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Send a fax is really an amazing tool to share any type of documents and information. In recent days very few people use fax machines because uses of internet faxes is increasing day by day. so the information which you have shared about send a fax is very useful for people.

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