Why the T.38 Protocol is Important

by | Sep 16, 2014 | Telecommunications

Kicked off in 1998 as a means if enabling faxes to be effectively transmitted over IP, or Internet protocol, networks, the T.38 protocol was the first fax standard that was a proactive adjustment to the rise of the Internet.

While the scanning and e-mail of documents and images have been on the rise in recent years, fax machines remain popular and necessary tools for the modern office. To remain in step with the best of modern technology, however, protocols were developed to essentially upgrade and maximize the fax machine and transmission methods.

The T.38 protocol was an answer to that need for an update in the practice of transmitting faxes in the same way that the VoIP, or voice over IP, became an alternative to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network, also called the PSTN.

The T.38 protocol was a massive improvement for the fax machines of the era, as they were subject to the side-effects of VoIP systems designed for voice transmittal. As such, transmission was delayed, data lost, and overall quality suffered.

The advantages of adopting the protocol include the maximization of bandwidth — a goal in virtually every modern office — as well as the transmission of higher-quality and more effective faxes.

Taking Advantage of the T.38 Protocol

There is more than one way to send a fax. Since we’re discussing the T.38, however, it’s important to note that a definitive factor of the T.38 is that the protocol allows faxes to be sent in real time over IP networks.

Because of this real-time quality, the T.38 protocol is able to echo the essential benefits of traditional faxing. Like a traditional fax, the T.38 directs a fax machine to call another fax machine—but updated methods are utilized in doing so.

A primary benefit of the T.38 protocol is that it consumes less bandwidth, which is a significant benefit for any data-hungry workplace. Efforts to trim bandwidth usage add up, and measures taken in fax transmission and telephony are worth the effort.

As the T.38 protocol transmits data at 64,000 bits per second, 128,000 bits of bandwidth is needed for a bi-directional fax transmission. While this may not seem like a conservative figure at first glance, it’s worth noting that these figures are still less than the bandwidth eaten up by other types of fax protocols.

A T.38 protocol gateway is made up of two primary segments, including the fax modems and, of course, the T.38 subsystem. The modems are used to configure and de-configure segments of analog data, followed by the subsequent rearranging of data within the facsimile’s analog signal into its binary form, and vice versa.

A modern tool designed to update classic faxing systems by embracing the cutting-edge, the T.38 is an ideal addition for anyone who continues to use fax machines as an essential business tool.