A typical fax machine comes with a corded phone or landline phone, but can a fax machine call a cell phone? After all, how different are a telephone and a fax machine anyway?

The short answer to that is yes, with the right setup. But there’s also another way you can fax and call without needing two separate machines, and it’s a lot easier and faster to use.

How does calling a fax machine work?

(image credit: http://clipart-library.com/fax-machine-images.html) Most fax machines used to be connected to POTS lines

Back in the day, phone lines were mostly analogue POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines that can carry any kind of call (fax, voice, modem) that connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)

Nowadays, you’re likely already using many Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) or even Fax-over-Internet-Protocol (FoIP) services. In the case of FoIP and other specialised phone line services, these lines are only able to carry fax calls.

So when you call a fax machine, you’re really calling a fax number. If you call a fax number using a normal phone, a fax machine will respond with a series of beeps.

Those series of beeps, called handshaking tones, are how fax machines communicate with one another. When a fax machine sends out a series of beeps but doesn’t get a similar response, it takes it as a sign that there isn’t another fax machine on the other side and terminates the connection.

That’s what happens with internet-based phone lines. These digitise phone conversations so that they can travel via the internet, but that makes them impossible to read on analogue phone lines.

3 Ways to call and fax on the same device

Still, it’s possible to use a fax machine to call a cell phone with the right setup. And even if you can’t there are other ways that let you fax and make calls without needing two devices.

Technique 1: Using a Standard Phone Line

(image credit: https://www.nextiva.com/blog/what-is-pots.html) How a POTS phone line works

One way to use a fax machine to call a cell phone is to get a POTS line plugged into a fax machine. While this used to be the default, many mobile carriers today are actually reluctant to install POTS lines.

If your fax machine is currently plugged into a POTS line, you can receive any kind of call from any device. Otherwise, you can consider plugging in to one with a major carrier:

AT&T: https://www.att.com/home-phone/landline.html

Verizon: https://www.verizon.com/home/phone/

Take note that POTS lines are becoming less and less common – just 45% of US households still use POTS lines in 2016, and that figure is likely higher today. Some areas in the US also do not support POTS lines.

Technique 2: Use a online fax service that has integrated calling options

eFax is a popular online fax service that also provides a free fax app

Instead of calling through a physical fax machine, you can use an online fax service provided by companies like eFax, MetroFax, or RingCentral. RingCentral, for example, provides a full suite of business communication services that include calling, call forwarding and conferencing.

Online fax services provide regular fax numbers, toll-free numbers as well as local phone numbers. A fax number can be used to only send and receive faxes, but a toll-free number or local phone number can be used to make regular calls.

Technique 3: Use a free fax app

Zap Fax is a free fax app that allows you to call and fax at the same time. 

If you’ve always wanted a telephone and fax machine neatly rolled into one, all you need is a free fax app. Mobile fax apps work just like your regular fax machine, so technically using one of these apps is similar to making or receiving a call from a fax machine.

Getting a POTS line these days is difficult, and paying for an online fax service just to make calls from a fax machine to a cell phone doesn’t make much sense either. With a free fax app, you can easily do both without both a landline phone and a physical fax machine.

Fax and make calls together with Zap Fax

Can a fax machine call a cell phone? Yes. But it is worth setting up? Not really.

If you want to send and receive faxes and calls together, Zap Fax lets you do both without any hardware installation or expensive fees.

Zap Fax lets you fax and make calls without needing two devices

With Zap Fax, all you need is one mobile app to send, share and organise faxes. Because Zap Fax is a mobile app, it uses your phone’s features to work, allowing you to also send and receive calls while sending and receiving faxes at the same time.

As a plus, Zap Fax also values your privacy. Fax with a peace of mind with Zap Fax. With Zap Fax, all users receive a burner phone number just for faxing. This helps hide your real phone number so that faxes cannot be traced back to you.

So if you’re wondering, can a fax machine call a cell phone? Yes, but you’ll find what you want in handy mobile fax app like Zap Fax.