A fax line can cost anywhere from US$3-35 a month depending on how it is set up.
There are three ways of getting a fax line:
- With an online fax service (a virtual fax machine). Costs start at US$5-15/month for 100 pages/month of fax transmissions.
- As an extra phone line. These typically cost $US25-35/month for residential installation, more for a business installation. Fax machines and computers running fax software use these lines.
- As an extra phone number on an existing phone line using DRPD (dual ring pattern detection). These typically cost an extra US$3-10/month on top of the cost of an existing phone line. A fax machine connected to a dual ring line will need to have the ability to understand DRPD.
An online fax service acts as a virtual fax machine. It is very similar to a webmail email account but is for fax. With these services, you can send and receive faxes via email, a web browser, smartphone app, or desktop software.
Compared with an extra phone line, an online fax service costs less to operate, especially for low monthly fax volumes. There is also no fax machine and phone line to maintain.
Expect to pay anywhere from US$7-15/month for a fax service that can send or receive 100 pages in a month. Costs increase with the number of pages sent and received.
An extra phone line is installed and activated by the local phone company.
The monthly cost to have an extra phone line in a home is $25-35/month. There may be installation charges (especially if adding phone jacks and phone wiring within the house).
Compared with an online fax service, an extra phone line is more per month. With larger fax volumes (especially if faxing is mostly in a local area), a fax line can be more cost-effective than other options.
Compared with an extra phone number on an existing phone line, a separate phone line is more expensive but has the benefits of being an isolated resource. If the phone line is in use, the fax line is still available. If the fax line is in use, the phone line is still available.
Some phone companies have the option to have more than one phone number assigned to a phone line. Each assigned phone number has a different ring. Fax machines with DRPD can detect the different ring tones and only answer on their distinctive ring.
The monthly cost to have an extra phone number on the same phone line is $3-10/month and may have extra setup charges. There are no wiring or additional installation costs (as long as you have a phone jack ready to use for the fax). Your fax machine will need to have DRPD (dual ring pattern detection) or a similar feature.
Compared with an online fax service, an extra phone number can be a little less if you are already operating a landline phone line and existing fax machine. The main difference is with convenience and availability. For some people, a traditional fax machine or computer with fax software is more convenient. For others, an online fax service accessed over the internet is more convenient.
Compared with a dedicated fax line, an extra phone number costs less but comes with some service limitations. With an extra phone number, the phone and fax cannot both be in use at the same time. When either the fax or the phone line dial out, caller id will show the call coming from the phone line. As well, the fax machine will need DRPD to be able to tell the difference between the two phone rings.
Fax Authority – Comparison of online fax services, how to install a fax line, and how to set up a fax machine with a distinctive ring – Different alternatives discussed on this page.