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Facsimile Systems Provide Speed, Accuracy and Economy.

Blending speed and accuracy with cost efficiency, facsimile transmission of documents provides benefits to business, industry and government that are rapidly increasing.

This communication mode provides rapid transmission of a wide variety of alphanumeric material and graphics via ordinary telephone lines. Technological advances have integrated fax's capabilities and components with automated office equipment in shared-systems environments that provide further benefits, including transmission to multiple receivers.

With the increasing sophistication of facsimile equipment, some industry observers are inclined to write off the prospects of the basic stand-alone fax unit as being too limited in its applications for the future. We, however, do not share this view. While heavy-volume users will continue to demand sophisticated systems that send and receive reams of documents at high transmittal speeds, small-volume users find that the stand-alone fax unit matches their specific needs.

How does facsimile work in terms of speed, accuracy and cost in relation to alternate methods of information delivery/transmission? First, consider the capabilities and functions of facsimile.

Stripped to its essentials, fax is a remote photocopying system with a scanner and printer separated by miles--or yards--of telephone lines, and the machines have the ability to send and receive business documents. An original document, already typed and inspected for accuracy, is scanned. Its image is converted to impulses for transmission by phone wire, and a copy of the original is printed at the receiving end. Graphics Can Be Transmitted

Copies received are confirmed and can bear signatures that are legally binding. Charts, graphs and other graphics may be transmitted. Exact duplication of the original page elimintaes any chance for error in transmission.

Facsimile equipment available today is categorized into three groups: Group 1 machines transmit/receive a document in four to six minutes, and typically are nonautomated, analog units. Group 2 units, frequently automated, complete the communication process in two to three minutes. Group 3 transceivers, digital and fully automated, do the job in less than one minute.

The new generation of Group 3 highspeed digital facsimile transceivers often features auto-dialers and automatic document feeders as standard equipment. Also equipped with polling, voice request and activity report features, many of these units automatically transmit up to 30 documents as wide as 11 inches and of continuous length. The fastest of these units can send a business letter anywhere in the world in less than 30 seconds.

To store documents from fax terminals for forwarding later to other terminals, we recently introduced a facsimile congested terminals. The unit has up to eight data channels (telephone lines), dynamically allocated between receiving and sending, to minimize busy signals. In the delivery mode, the controller will re-try a busy machine at five-minute intervals. After-Hours Routing Cuts Costs

Both network load and costs are reduced by the controller's ability to hold documents for after-hours routing at reduced phone rates. It can collect documents from a local cluster of slow-speed fax maxhines and send them long-distance at high speeds to a high-speed machine or to another exchange. The unit automatically recognizes the protocol of the sending and receiving machines of the three facsimile groups, and conversion among these protocols is provided.

Facsimile is unchallenged as the fastest, easiest-to-use form of written message transmission. While the Postal Service and private couriers offer the convenience of overnight delivery, modern business communications demand the speed (with accuracy and economy) of electronics in relaying information to virtually any point in the world.

Traditionally, the users of facsimile have been about evenly divided between renters and purchasers. The fear of having outdated technology, or the freedom to switch to another vendor among the many in the marketplace, probably accounts for the high number of current non-owners.

However, we are seeing today a steadily increasing number of buyers as the industry offers purchase plans that make owning as economical as renting. Low finance rates from vendor companies and the incentive of the investment tax credit are leading more decision-makers to buy.

The future of facsimile technology is usually discussed in terms of Group 4 capabilities. At present, there are no true Group 4 machines because the CCITT (Consultative Committee for International Telegraph and Telephone) has yet to set the standards. Early-entry Group 4 machineswill probably be introduced in 1985, but they will not be fully loaded units with total capability--that is, completely automatic machines able to transmit a single sheet in one to five seconds.

A restricting factor of Group 4 is that the highways--the high-speed data lines--are not all in place. Those that are lack the access lines to enable full facsimile broadcasting to users at various receiving points. Group 4 Will Develop Slowly

If, for example, your company is located in a major metropolitan area, you can easily hook up to a high-speed data line. But if you have a manufacturing plant or office in a remote location, transmission would have to be done over voicegrade lines, sequentially, unless you can justify the cost of high-speed data lines. Group 4 one-to-five second transmission is not going to arrive overnight for the typical fax user. It will be much slower in developing than Group 3, which literally exploded into the market.

Instead, we feel that the big push in facsimile will remain in Group 3 as efforts continue to streamline these terminals and realize their full potential. Within this group will be low- and high-end units, their capabilities dependent upon customer requirements in both cost and function.

Given today's market conditions in the facsimile industry, the customer is decidedly in the driver's seat. Any business with a need to move documents quickly from one location to another can readily cost-justify the use of today's fax systems.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lidstad, R.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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