Can I use a fax machine with Vonage?


Can I use a fax machine with Vonage?

Yes, but you may need to “tweak” things a bit.

First, set up your Vonage phone adapter/router. Next, plug the cord from your fax machine into an active green phone port on the back of the unit. (There should be two little phone handset icons.) If you have only one service line, plug the fax cord into “Phone Port 1.” You’ll have to switch out your phone for your fax machine every time you want to send or receive a fax. Or plug your phone into the phone port on your fax machine — it probably has one. If you’ve purchased a second Vonage line for dedicated faxing, plug the fax cord into “Phone Port 2” of the Vonage router.

You should now be able to send and receive faxes as usual. If you have a dedicated line, you’ll need to visit the Vonage web site and log in to your online account to choose the type of adapter you’re using.

So, you can use a single Vonage line for both voice and fax calls, as long as you don’t want to do both at the same time. If you need to send and receive faxes at any time — even when you’re on a voice call — you’ll want a second Vonage line for the fax machine.

Vonage markets a “fax line” as a separate phone line, available to homes for a monthly fee of $9.99 (plus a $9.99 activation fee) with a 250-minute-per-month cap for outgoing faxes before customers are charged 3.9 cents per minute. (Incoming faxes are unlimited.) A Vonage Small Business Account includes a dedicated fax line at no extra charge, with a limit of 500 minutes’ worth of outgoing faxes per month. (Again, incoming faxes are free.) But Vonage engineers must “provision the device” before sending it to you and allowing you to add the fax line.

Vonage claims to work with all fax machines. However, some customers report having had trouble sending and/or receiving faxes with Vonage and other voice-over IP (VoIP) providers. The difficulties are a frequent topic in help forums and even made the Wikipedia entry for Vonage. Frustratingly, the problems have been intermittent and hard to diagnose, and some customers have resorted to buying a new fax machine that better-suits Vonage’s optimum specifications. The company’s official “help” resource suggests lowering the baud rate on the fax machine to 9600 (or “slow”) as well as disabling the machine’s ECM (error correction mode) feature, if applicable. Also, make sure the fax machine is on the “standard” setting. Some users have had good luck adding *99 before dialing, as that resets the bandwidth for that call.

Vonage also allows its customers to send faxes over the Internet, without a fax machine, by uploading documents to the Vonage web site. There is no additional charge for this service if you’re on the company’s “Unlimited Plan.” Per-minute customers will see fax use applied toward their monthly minutes allowance.

[edit: This service, known as vFax, has been discontinued. If you’d like to send a fax online for free, you might want to try out FaxZero. You can also use a website like Fax1 or MaxEmail if you’re willing to pay for the service.]


Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.