Fax Polling, or Fax On Demand

Can I “ask” another fax machine to send me something?

You’re thinking of fax polling, also known as fax on demand. Essentially, your fax machine calls another one and requests that it fax back a particular document.

This communication approach has been used since the 1980s as a self-service method of acquiring documents ranging from sales reports to weather forecasts to contractors’ bid submission forms. The National Archives and Records Administration used to use fax on demand to deliver requested documents, but discontinued the service because so few people were using it. With the growth of e-mail and Internet-based communication involving such documents, fax polling is not as popular as it once was. But it can still be a valuable tool for companies that want to make up-to-date information and sensitive material available to their clients and customers without placing it in a publicly accessible venue such as the corporate web site.

WinFax Pro used to be popular software for this function, but Symantec stopped updating it in 2001. There are other software products available that can handle fax polling, such as Copia’s FaxFacts Fax on Demand. Users call via fax or phone and specify the document number they wish to have sent to them.

If you outsource to a production-class fax service provider or fax broadcasting service, or manage fax technology in-house with software such as Hylafax, configuring for fax polling is almost certainly possible.

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