Faxing – have we come to the end of the line?

2025 could be a landmark year for the demise of what was historically one of our most effective forms of communication – the fax machine. 

The fax was the go-to method of delivering documents during the peak of its popularity in the 20 years or so between the 1970s and 1990s, but its use dates back long before that. 

Why is 2025 so important?

The problem is that all analogue telephone lines will come to an abrupt end in 2025, and it is these analogue services that are used to send and receive data through a fax machine. It’s been a pretty simple process for a long time. All you have had to do is buy the machine, obtain a landline, set it up and away you go.

The shutdown of analogue – a switch-off of ISDN and PSDN means your Fax machine will no longer operate. It’s that simple and will require all systems using the outdated analogue technology to be transferred to a different way of operating.

It is the rise of digital technology that has ultimately sounded the death knell for the fax machine, but the fax has somehow still had a place; it’s just a question of adapting to a more up-to-date method of delivery.

There are estimated to be more than 40 million fax machines still in operation globally, with many millions more still being made and sold every year, making the fax still one of the most popular forms of communication, as evidenced by the near 20 billion documents that make their way through fax machines annually.

Some downsides to faxing include:

  • Poor security
  • Issues with GDPR
  • Analogue line instability, resulting in faulty transmissions and errors
  • Downtime when the technology doesn’t work as it should
  • Higher costs
  • Junk Faxes – they’re still going strong!

A move to online faxing means your fax messages are handled in a totally different way and prevent most, if not all, of these problems arising.

Many businesses still use – and rely upon – fax services but will have to adapt moving forward. The fax machine as we have known it will cease to exist, but ‘faxes’ are likely to continue – just in a different way – as an electronic service.

Other affected services

It’s not just the fax machine that will be affected by the changeover.  Some Payment Terminals, EPOS systems, door entry and CCTV systems – even the emergency telephones in lifts!

If you haven’t already done an assessment of your business comms, then we strongly recommend you start investigating.

Faxing timeline

The fax has been around for a long time, and despite being considered to be a mid to late 20th Century administrative workhorse, its origins can be dated to 1843

Here are some notable milestones:

  • 1843 – Scottish inventor Alexander Bain takes out a patent for his Electric Printing Telegraph, the first known reference to using electric signals to read text documents and reprint them at other locations.
  • 1880 – The Scanning Phototelegraph is developed, the first machine to replicate two-dimensional images.
  • 1908 – First known transcontinental fax transmission which shared wanted posters with police between London and Paris.
  • 1924 – 15 photographs sent from Cleveland to New York. They were of sufficient quality to be used in the following day’s paper.
  • 1964 – The Xerox Corporation transitioned transmissions from the electrical wiring network to the more secure telephone system.
  • 1985 – Computer interface for faxing developed.

Use of the fax has declined since then of course as great strides continue to be made in the world of technology, but the fax continues to be used – so could we really be at the end of the line for this one-time favourite mode of communication?

If you would like a free audit on the tech you currently use – or want to plan out your tech use in the future – do get in touch.