I've written about some of the challenges of faxing
on the Asterisk platform. Faxing has always been one of Asterisk's weaknesses, though it is getting better. Well today, PIKA Technologies
announced support for fax applications built on the open-source platform Asterisk. According to PIKA, "PIKA Fax software is now extended to Asterisk, allowing developers on the platform to easily build reliable fax capabilities into their applications."
One of the main problems with faxing on Asterisk is the timing sync of the fax cards which must be in sync between the PRI/T1 voice card and the fax card. Usually you are taking the timing from the telco on the PRI/T1 card and then in order for faxing to work you have to re-send that timing signal out to the fax card. Unfortunately, the timing coming out of the T1/PRI card is not synched to the fax card. The timing is generated by the internal clock on the card itself. Thus, the timing sync signal is not making it from the PRI/T1 card to the fax hardware. One solution to keep the timing in sync is to connect a timing cable between them and share the clock.
PIKA states, "Until now, faxes could be sent and received in Asterisk-based applications only by using Span DSP, a software fax plug-in. Unlike Span DSP, PIKA Fax works independently from zaptel. Its driver works at the kernel level, providing control of real-time applications. PIKA Fax will work with any vendor’s board that supports Asterisk and has been tested specifically with Digium, Sangoma and PIKA hardware."
If this software-based fax solution is as good as it sounds then perhaps reliable faxing on Asterisk will become a reality. I should point out that Sangoma
also claims a reliable faxing solution for Asterisk that doesn't require special software. I am curious how PIKA solves the timing issues using just software and not tied to a synchronized clock. I'll have to investigate further.
In the meantime, the full release is after the jump.
PIKA Technologies Inc., a developer of media-processing hardware and software, today announced that it has expanded its product range to support fax applications built on the open-source platform Asterisk. PIKA Fax software is now extended to Asterisk, allowing developers on the platform to easily build reliable fax capabilities into their applications.
“PIKA continues to develop voice and fax solutions that meet the needs of the modern application developer,” said Terry Atwood, vice president of sales, marketing and customer care at PIKA. “All our products for developers using the Asterisk open-source development platform have been a great success, and the addition of fax support is the logical evolution of that product suite.”
Until now, faxes could be sent and received in Asterisk-based applications only by using Span DSP, a software fax plug-in. Unlike Span DSP, PIKA Fax works independently from zaptel. Its driver works at the kernel level, providing control of real-time applications. PIKA Fax will work with any vendor’s board that supports Asterisk and has been tested specifically with Digium, Sangoma and PIKA hardware.
PIKA Fax is easy to install, requiring a single install command compared to Span DSP’s three packages. With Span DSP, there are additional components that must be in synch with Asterisk, and must be downloaded separately, in order for it to work. The PIKA Fax installation is a one-package installation and includes everything that the application requires in order to run.
Like all PIKA offerings, PIKA Fax is fully supported by PIKA and its customer support team. PIKA Fax was developed, tested and trialed by PIKA. It has been demonstrated to be reliable and the technology behind it is already proven in the marketplace as it uses the same software that large fax-server providers have been using for years. In addition, compatibility with broad varieties of fax machines further demonstrates the reliability and flexibility of PIKA Fax.
The benefits increase if users couple PIKA Fax software along with PIKA boards. Developers doing so can achieve up to four times the density of competing boards because the real-time applications and processing occur at the kernel level, eliminating potential roadblocks in Asterisk.
PIKA’s low-density analog FXO board comes with four free fax ports enabled. This board does the fax processing on the board itself, lowering costs by reducing the need for a higher speed CPU on the PC. Other PIKA boards including high-density analog FXO and FXS and Digital T1/E1 come with 25% of the ports fax-enabled for free. Additional ports can be enabled with simple license upgrades that can be ordered online and remotely installed, eliminating costly site visits to upgrade ports.
Because of its low cost, high density, easy installation and full customer support from PIKA, PIKA Fax is an ideal solution for small businesses. Its robustness makes it a good option for high-volume fax applications in fax-server environments, and its flexibility easily enables applications for unified messaging, sending fax to email as a .tiff attachment.
For more information on PIKA Fax and to try a PIKA fax port for free visit www.pikatechnologies.com/fax