2025 Is the End of Analogue: What Does This Mean for Faxing?
As of 2019, most-all fax machines operate using analogue transmissions to send and receive data. Although the behind-the-scenes mechanics might be the kind of thing only mechanical engineers concern themselves with, the basic process is one that will be very simple and familiar to business owners.
You buy a fax machine, you secure yourself a landline for fax transmission, you plug the hardware into the telecoms network, and away you go.
This is how fax machines have operated since their inception. However, this practice will soon be coming to an end. Why? Because the availability of analogue is being shut off, and with the death of analogue comes the inability to just plug in your fax machine and watch it churn out documents.
The Analogue Switch-Off: What Is It?
National provider of telecommunications systems BT announced that 2025 will be the year that all forms of analogue transmission are terminated — this will be the year of the PSDN and ISDN switch-off. The move comes as the company forges ahead with an all-digital strategy.
This does not mean phone lines will now go dead and we’ll all be forced to use smartphones. However, it does mean that systems using old-fashioned analogue tech will need to be transferred to different methods of data transmission. For many businesses, this means adapting the way they send and receive fax documents. While most other technology has already been moved to digital systems, many fax machines remain reliant on analogue networks.
Why Does the Switch-Off Matter?
Although fax technology is old technology, its potential demise at the hands of the BT switch-off is definitely cause for concern.
While it’s hard to argue that fax is as popular as it used to be — the 1970s-1990s saw fax usage among businesses hit record highs, with an inevitable decline occurring following the rise of digital technology — the technology still has its place.
Fax might not be as big as it used to be, but it has far from died out.
A few quick-fire facts reveal the extent to which fax documents are still used. 43 million fax machines operate around the world, with millions more manufactured and purchased every year. This army of fax hardware is creating over 17 billion documents annually, making fax one of the most widely used methods of communication to this day.
Given this data, a loss of faxing capabilities could prove to be hugely detrimental to business operations, particularly those for which the practice has become entrenched or brands operating internationally.
Is the Switch-Off a Blessing in Disguise?
Before we start prophesying the end times, it’s important to consider the positives of businesses effectively being forced to move away from old-fashioned analogue technology.
There is a reason that the switch-off is occurring and fax machines have been largely replaced in many British businesses; because they aren’t equipped to support the modern work environment. Major issues with fax machines include:
Dangerous Security Flaws — Fax machines are old technology not built for modern businesses but instead built for those operating many years ago. That means they’ve got certain weaknesses that new-age hackers can exploit. One such problem, known as the faxploit, allows malicious attacks to be targeted at your entire computer network through unprotected fax machine entry points.
GDPR Compliance — The introduction of GDPR laws has left many businesses concerned about the way they handle customer data. Fax machines were not designed with data protection in mind, which means they are prone to breaches.
Inflexible Work — Flexible and remote work is on the rise. Both employers and employees are seeing the benefits of adapting to new methods of working. Fax machines, however, don’t support this at all. Large and cumbersome hardware that cannot be moved around, they are entirely inflexible and don’t accommodate remote work.
Instability — Analogue lines are notoriously unstable compared to digital systems. It’s all too easy for errors to occur, leading to downtime and transmission problems. Instability is not a word that any business owner wants to hear in conjunction with their technology.
Excessive Costs — Fax machines can quickly wrack up high costs of operation. From the price of paper, ink and toner to maintenance fees and hits to workplace efficiency, businesses find they’re funnelling resources into their hardware. With Brexit leaving many small businesses under financial strain, struggling companies need to look at ways of cutting costs, and removing fax machines is one of them.
Is There a Solution?
Businesses are now faced with a conundrum. Fax remains an important part of communication — one that cannot be lost — but analogue lines are being shut off and fax machines themselves are proving far too problematic to maintain. Where does this leave you?
It leaves you with online faxing.
Online faxing is a method of data transmission that handles fax very differently to analogue. Through entirely digital services, online faxing submits and receives fax transmissions via cloud-based technology. Outdated fax machines do not need to be used at all. Instead, fax documents are managed through computer software — accessible via desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet devices. Organisations using online faxing software can still send faxes to, and receive faxes from, a physical fax machine, as files are automatically converted by the software. But they don’t need a fax machine themselves. This ensures total coverage of fax transmissions without any reliance on soon-to-be-defunct analogue connections and risky fax hardware.
In short, online fax is more secure, more cost-effective and more flexible than its predecessor. It doesn’t matter which industry or sector you operate in; any business can benefit from upgrading to digital fax solutions over archaic technology designed to support a decades-old economy. With analogue technology soon to be a thing of the past, online fax offers the best way for your business to adapt to the change and maintain fax functionality while moving away from harmful fax machines that could negatively impact your brand.