How to Attach a Fax Machine to a Cellular Phone
By Elizabeth Mott
As cellular service providers offer new ways of combining mobile connections and traditional phones, you may think you've found a new way to use older technologies, including your fax machine, over your on-the-go line. Unfortunately, you can't plug a regular desktop fax machine directly into your cellphone or smartphone, but that doesn't mean your mobile device can't handle the document and data transmissions that faxes provide. To manage fax tasks on a mobile connection, send documents using methods that cellphones can support.
Analog Vs. Digital Technology
Your fax machine uses recognition and handshaking tones that enable it to negotiate a connection with a machine on the receiving end of the line. Now that all cellphones and smartphones rely on digital signal technology, a mobile connection can't support and transmit the tones that a fax machine requires. Because your fax machine uses a built-in analog modem, the same limitations hold true if you attempt to connect a fax machine or an external modem to a VoIP line, which digitizes phone conversations into a form that can travel over an Internet connection.
Cellular Home Connections
Some cellphone providers offer hardware devices to which you can connect one or more landline telephones so they can make calls using your mobile minutes and bandwidth. These base stations include standard phone jacks that accept the cords you use to plug regular telephones into landline wall jacks. Although your fax machine uses the same kinds of cords and cabling as your phones do, these home-phone-over-cell-service plans and hardware can't convey the fax machine's connection tones properly.
Scanning or Snapping Documents
If you need to send a copy of a printed document or form to someone to whom you ordinarily would send a fax transmission, you can digitize the pages on a scanner connected to your home computer and email the resulting files from your cellphone. You also can use a smartphone app to turn your mobile device's camera into a document scanner so you can acquire a page image directly without using other hardware. For documents that originate in computer applications, you can create PDF versions of your completed files and email them in lieu of faxing them.
Using Online Fax Services
Online fax services enable you to transmit and receive faxes through attachment to email messages and still provide a traditional fax-line number for incoming transmissions. A monthly fee gives you an allotment of incoming and outgoing pages, after which you pay a per-page charge for each transmission. Some of these services offer smartphone apps you can use in addition to or instead of handling faxes through a Web browser on your desktop or notebook computer. To send documents, you upload digital files in formats that may include the output of Microsoft Office applications as well as graphic files, PDFs and HTML documents.
- PhoneLabs: FAQ
- Verizon: Home Phone Connect FAQs
- Consumer Cellular: Wireless Home Phone Base
- Clark Howard: Cheap Landline Home Phone Service
- MyFax: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- FaxCompare: FaxCompare
- 3CX: How Does FAX Work in VoIP Environments?
- The New York Times: Scanner Apps Turn the Phone Into a Fax Machine
- PCWorld: Send Faxes From Home Without a Fax Machine or Landline
Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.