Move to end fax machine use will threaten businesses

ONCE an essential part of office equipment, the days of the fax machine are coming to an end, but it could also signal major problems for local businesses.
The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom is consulting on changes to telecoms rules that could see the apparatus no longer being used as telecoms providers would no longer be required to provide fax services.
Formally known as a facsimile machine, progress will see it consigned to the dustbin of the past along with the VCR and cassette player, but offices in rural areas such as Fermanagh are still dependent on them.
A quick Google search shows the variety of legal firms, medical practices, health centres and construction companies that are still using fax machines across the county.
Community pharmacists like Enniskillen’s Paul Hughes are just one of those who use them regularly.
“We still use fax machines within our business. We would both send and receive them,” Mr Hughes said. “Some of the GPs and out-of-hours [services] would also occasionally fax in prescriptions in emergencies or if something needs to be done at short notice.
“They would have been used a lot more in the past, of course, but businesses in rural areas like Fermanagh would definitely use them.
“It’s different to the likes of Belfast or London.”
Every office had a fax machine in the 1980s and 90s, but the industry-led change from the public switched telephone network to all-internet protocol (IP) technology, means that fax machines will no longer work in the same way. Ofcom consulted widely on its use and value this year before reaching its conclusion.
The regulator is still giving those who feel strongly that the fax machine has a place in the office a chance to state their case before the plug is pulled on them.
But going by their last consultation, the result is a foregone conclusion – only 13 responses were made to the two-month, UK-wide consultation in November 2021.
“Not only are alternatives to fax machines now more widely available, migration of telephone networks to internet protocol (IP) technology means fax services can no longer be guaranteed to work in the same way,” Ofcom said. “We considered it was appropriate for fax to be removed from the USO, given its limited ongoing use.”

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA