Breckenridge business combines old and new technology
David Knell, CEO of TelNG, is a forward thinking technologist who appreciates that some people are caught in a time warp.
The Breckenridge-based telecom company is courting the diminishing fax transmission market with their newest product FaxJack. Knell estimates there are still between 2-5 million fax machines functioning in the U.S.
“We’re riveted firmly to the trailing edge of technology,” he quipped.
Knell, who founded TelNG a decade ago in England, noticed that as more businesses upgraded to IP telephone systems, the marriage with existing fax technology was not exactly a match made in cyber heaven.
IP telephone technology allows for calls to be transmitted over the Internet instead of a traditional circuit-switched network.
“Instead of having a box in the corner to transfer calls, you have a voice over IP that connects to the cloud,” he said.
Once businesses are on an IP phone system problems often arise with fax transmissions due to latency delays. The time between data being sent and received is defined as latency. When transmission delays occur, the data, which is sent as packets of information, gets out of sync, potentially causing packet loss.
“A single dropped packet is enough to cause the fax machine to give up and hang up,” he said. “For people with 50 page documents, it becomes untenable.”
Although for many, more recent technological options have trumped the increasingly outdated fax machine, Knell noted that in certain realms its use is mandated. For example municipalities typically require that construction bids be received via fax. Also due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules, many doctors prefer to fax medical documents to assure data is not compromised.
“A lot of people rarely send fax (transmissions) nowadays, but in certain industries its still used big time,” he said.
One perk of fax technology is the time stamp noting when the transmission was sent. In fact, Knell said many lawyers prefer to fax documents because they are more conditioned to working with hard copies of documents.
TelNG rented a booth at the ITExpo, a telecommunications conference and trade show that met this October in Anaheim. Knell was a guest speaker and presenter at the conference.
Despite ITExpo’s slogan purporting that attendees will “discover the next frontier in communications,” old habits diehard.
“We had to fax our info there to reserve a booth,” he said.
There is also an obvious generational divide with new technology. Many people over 50 years of age prefer to use fax over computers, Knell said.
One advantage of IP phone systems is the elimination of long-distance phone charges, as there are no costs beyond the price of Internet access. Also to retain an analog phone line solely for fax purposes could add anywhere from $35-$50 to a company’s monthly expense sheet.
“Our FaxJack product allows reliable faxing over IP networks, thus allowing its users to lose the analog line to which their fax machine’s connected and move to an all-IP solution,” Knell explained.
Essentially the FaxJack apparatus contains software to make packet transmission reliable by adding delay, he said. By adding a three second delay dropped data is avoided.
“What is means is the paper comes out one second later,” he said.
To conduct market research on the demand for FaxJack, Knell attended the International Wireless Communications Expo this past March in Las Vegas. The event is one of the largest gatherings of telecom resellers, Knell explained.
“I figured that would be a good place to start since these people would know if there was a marketplace,” he said. “We walked away with 100 business cards and our ears ringing.”
Although he acknowledged the market is shrinking daily, the response from industry experts was encouraging.
What the future holds for TelNG’s latest venture is still unknown. Knell said while the product is still in the sales phase, as the demand fades, his companies role will shift to servicing existing FaxJack clients.
The global market may keep Knell occupied longer than expected though, as he notes that 60 percent, or approximately 11 million Japanese households still use fax technology.
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