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Business is in love with fax: plain paper paces growth.


Business can't get enough of fax. According to CAP International, a market-research firm, more than 2.5 million fax machines are in U.S. offices.

More than 50 facsimile suppliers offer hundreds of models, ranging from a $30,000 fax machine that includes every available option to a bare-bones unit that retails for $800.

Plain Paper

The big trend in the industry is plain-paper fax.

Plain paper provides an alternative for users who dislike many of the qualities of thermal paper, including its slick feel and tendency to curl up. Plain paper also will allow businesses to archive facsimile documents. Thermalfax transmissions fade if stored over a long period of time and must be photocopied onto higher-quality paper before they are filed.

Modified plain-paper fax machines using thermal technology have been available since 1987, but only recent availability of affordable laser-based plain-paper fax has gained public acceptance.

Several vendors offer a plain-paper fax that relies on LED (laser-emitting diode) printing technology. Prices have begun to fall, topping about at $5000. As interest increases, suppliers will push prices lower to capture larger shares of the market.

Group 4, Color

Looming on the horizon is Group 4 fax.

Already being touted for its speed and high resolution, it uses the digital-transmission capabilities that will be available through ISDN.

Until ISDN becomes widely available, however, Group 4 will be limited to some large corporations.

Group 4 is not expected to pose a threat to the Group 3 market for many years.

CAP predicts that by 1992, only 9100 Group 4 machines wille in place.

Pervasive consumer interest in Group 4 will become a reality only when low-cost digital-transmission technology is fully in place.

Another development still in its infancy is color fax.

The technology needed to produce these machines is more complex and costly than color copiers.

Prices for recenly announced models are expected to top $14,000.

Lack of CCITT standards for color-fax compression represents another stumbling block for manufacturers.

These factors, coupled with limited applications for color fax, are expected to hinder advancement of full color.

Ability to integrate fax with existing office technologies will further entrench facsimile use in today's business.

Fax is being combined with voice-messaging systems to allow users to access and manipulate fax documents through touch-tone phones. The marriage of these two technologies gives users the ability to review voice and fax messages.

Most importantly, these systems can be directed to send fax messages to any other machines at specified times.

Other developments in the fax industry include growth of portable fax for business travelers and the emergence of fully featured and moderately priced models for both home and office use.

Home Fax Boom

Many facsimile suppliers anticipate tremendous growth in the home-fax market. By the end of 1992, CAP estimates, more than 10% of all fax machines installed in the United States will be used by people working out of their homes. Manufacturers are responding to this market change through development of lower-priced models that are multifunctional.

These models often work with equipment already in the home, and several units on the market combine a telephone, answering machine, and fax unit to eliminate the expense of a dedicated fax line.

American business is welcoming fax with open arms, fueling its current surge in popularity. After living in obscurity for over 100 years, fax has quickly become an integral part of today's business-office environment.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:facsimile transmission
Author:King, Joe
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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