One of the earliest electronic ways of communicating – fax – is still alive and well despite email, instant messaging and social networks.

Proof is that U.S.-based service provider etherFax LLC has set leased space in a Toronto data centre to meet the demands of Canadian corporate customers, particularly those with data security worries.

“Data sovereignty concerns about the Patriot Act and things of that in the U.S. are an issue,” said Robert Cichielo, chief technology office and etherFax founder. In addition, traditional Internet Protocol stacks offer no data protection.

“Putting a foothold in the great white north was a final step in giving our customers what they need.”

etherFax sends faxes by their connecting to corporate fax servers or to fax software. One of the features it touts is that all data remains with the customer.

Although the announcement was made Tuesday, etherFax service has been quietly available for a week. It expects to handle “tens of millions of faxes” from Canada in its first month of operations.

Companies here that he expects to be customers include those in finance, banking and health care. Among other advantages is that faxes are accepted as proof of delivery in a court.

etherFax offers to save customers money by doing away leasing phone lines for faxing. For reporting keeps detailed records on calls including length of time of transmission, how many pages were transmitted, the identity of the fax machine. It also can blacklist fax transmitters who it believes are using the service to send objectionable material.

The service is sold through reseller partners, who bundle it with fax software and set the price of the service.

Coincidentally, Cichielo has another Canadian connection: A fax company he founded called Facsys was sold to what became Solgenia, a Mississauga, Ont.-based maker of business applications. In fact Solgenia is one of the partners.

Five years after founding etherFax “people ask me jokingly ‘What are you doing in the fax business? It’s the year 2013.'” But the company offers a service over TDM phone circuits. It is not, he emphasizes, fax over the Internet which has poor security.

“On one hand I sit back in astonishment that people still use the technology,” he admits, “but the reality is it’s here.”



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