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SIP Forum Fax over IP Interop Group Reaches Milestone

The SIP Forum announced this week that the association’s Fax-over-IP Interoperability Task Group has published its formal FoIP Problem statement, achieving an important milestone for its FoIP initiative.

The SIP Forum chartered the FoIP Interoperability Task Group to investigate interoperability issues with the deployment of fax services, specifically ITU-T T.38, in SIP networks. The issues surrounding IP-based fax and the use of T.38 make it difficult for users to determine if T.38 can or will work reliably and thus offer an alternative to traditional TDM-based fax transport.

The T.38 protocol was approved by the ITU-T in 1998 and was designed to allow fax machines and computer-based fax to carry forward in a transitioning communications infrastructure of both IP- and TDM-based telephony. However, confusion among vendors, enterprises and service providers are slowing its us in support of IP as a real-time fax transport.

“It is clear that Fax is still important to businesses and to business process work flow, and that incompatibility between FoIP implementations have in many cases slowed VoIP adoption due to the continued demand for reliable fax capabilities”, said Eric Burger, SIP Forum chairman of the board. “This important effort will help promote the adoption of SIP and VoIP in the broader business community.”

Available for download, the FoIP Task Group Problem Statement details the problems the task group has chosen to address. Some of the issues the SIP Forum’s FoIP effort will deal with include:

• Interoperability failures seen in the field or lab

• Reliability or quality issues seen in the field or lab

• Deployment experiences

• Development experiences

• Architectural principals

• Proposals for achieving a higher degree of FoIP interoperability and/or FoIP reliability

• Proposals for soliciting additional real-world feedback from implementers and service providers

“A key goal of the SIP Forum FoIP effort is to bring together researchers, engineers, equipment vendors and service providers to exchange ideas, share experiences, and propose approaches to address FoIP technology issues and problems. Of course, a key focus is on the use and applicability of SIP to address systemic or architectural problems, ” said Marc Robins, SIP Forum president and managing director. “In addition, if the initiative identifies concrete proposals to improve FoIP that would require modifications to the underlying protocols, the Forum will forward these proposals to the appropriate groups in the standards bodies, including the IETF, IEEE or ITU-T.”

The FoIP Task Group leadership includes Chair Neil Weldon, director of technology, CTO Office, Dialogic Corp.; Whip Max Schroeder, senior vice president, Faxcore; and document editors, including Mike Coffee, CEO/COB, Commetrex Corp.; Michael Chen, LSI Corp.; Kevin P. Fleming, director of software technologies, Digium Inc; and Mike Oliszewski, CTO, FaxBack Inc.


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