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March 26, 2008

Brother Fax-560 with Vonage VOIP

Tonight, I decided to try to set up my Brother FAX-560 Personal fax machine on my Vonage VOIP line. Unfortunately, I was less than successful. I was never able to successfully send or receive a fax. If the fax machine tries to receive a fax, it says "RECEIVE", but then never receives anything. If I try to send a fax, it tries to send the fax for about 15 seconds, then stops and prints out a nasty error message that says "NG: POOR LINE CONDITION". I jacked around with it for some time before calling Vonage. They suggested a few things, but so far nothing is working. Basically, it looks like there is a problem with the line quality.

Vonage suggested the following:
1) Set Resolution to "Standard". I was able to do this on the faxes that I attempted to send, but it didn't solve the problem.
2) Change Baud to 9600. I haven't been able to figure out how to do this.
3) Turn off Error Correction Mode(ECM). I haven't been able to figure out how to do this.
4) Set it up for Overseas mode. I tried this for a transmission test, but it didn't work. Same results.

I have the User Guide, and I even found a copy of the Brother PPF FAX-560 User Guide online: But I can't figure out how to change the Baud rate or turn off ECM. This sucks.

You can get a fax line from Vonage for an additional $10/month, but I'm not sure why I should pay more money. There is a Microsoft delivered XP Fax Software program that works with a fax modem instead of using a separate fax machine.

I've tried a few suggestion I found on the Vonage website including:
1) Switched the telephone cable from a 4-line to a 2-line.
2) Connected the phone line directly from the Cisco Linksys Phone Adapter to the fax machine (no splitters in between).
3) Tried adding the *99 prefix in dialing string before each fax to the bandwidth to 90 for the call. This seemed like it was working, but I still got the "NG: POOR LINE CONDITION" message.

I'm going to call Brother at 877-276-8437 tomorrow to see if I'm missing something.

If I have to buy a different fax machine, this site lists some fax machines that can be set back to 9600 baud:
HP Fax Machines: HP6110, HP4110, HP6100xi, HP7410xi, HP PSC2210
Canon Fax Machines: Fax Phone B95
Brother Fax Machines: Fax-1835C, Fax-1840C, Fax-1940CN, Fax-2440C, Fax-2820, Fax-2825, Fax-2920, MFC-210C, MFC-215C, MFC-240C, MFC-3240C, MFC-3340c, MFC 420CN, and most other MFC models.

And then they list some faxes that allow you to turn off Error Correction Mode(ECM) on the following fax machines:
HP Fax Machines: For most HP 2000, 4100, 5000, 6000, 6100, and 7000 model Officejets.
Canon Fax Machines: B115, B120, B140, Fax Phone B95.
Brother Fax Machines: Brother MFC 420CN

I found this website that claims of my Brother FAX-560:

* No changes can be made on the Brother Fax-560 to better optimize for using with VoIP. Settings are already correct by default.
* Resolution is standard by default.
* Baud (baud rate) maximum is 9600
* ECM is not a feature of this fax machine

VOIP Frustration has directions on how to configure loads of fax machines from Brother, Canon, HP, Panasonic, and Sharp.

Update - Here's a link to my tedious spreadsheet showing a consolidation of all feedback I found on people's individual experience using Vonage with various fax machines.

Update 2 - There is also, apparently, a possibility also that my Cisco Linksys Phone Adapter is not the latest and greatest and most compatible. The model I have is a "Cisco Linksys PAP2 Phone Adapter with 2 Ports for Voice-over-IP". I remember setting this thing up and it was a glorious pain.

I verified that I had port forwarding set up correctly in my router for the ports as specified in the Linksys PAP2 User Guide

Internet phone 1 5060 to 5061 UDP
Internet phone 2 53 to 53 UDP
Internet phone 3 69 to 69 UDP
Internet phone 4 10000 to 20000 UDP

That all looks right. I checked the FIrmware version of the PAP2 unit:

By dialing **** 150#, I verified that my FIrmware is version 3.1.9c. I'm not sure if it matters or not, but that's what it is.

This site explains how to unlock your PAP2, but I'm not clear if mine is locked or not. I'm beginning to suspect it is locked, because when I type in the IP address to configure the PAP2, nothing happens. I also notice that the firmware was originally 3.1.3, and now it's 3.1.9c. So, I'm not sure how it got updated, but I seriously doubt that I did it because it was such a pain to get it working right that I'm reasonably sure I haven't jacked with it since then. This site explains how to unlock a PAP2 with firmware version 3.1.9, but it looks so complicated that I think I'm going to pass.

Finally, I decided to call Brother just to clarify what the baud rate is on the Brother FAX-560, if it can be changed, and if it has ECM, and if so, can ECM be turned off. After pressing zero enough times to get the phonedroid to shut up and dump me in a queue, I was placed on hold for several minutes. Then a guy answered and the conversation went something like this:
"What is your phone number?"
I told him my phone number.
"What is your address?"
I gave him my complete address, but I'm thinking "Why do they need my address? To send me junk mail?"
"What is you email address?"
And now I'm thinking - hold on here genius. I get enough spam as it is. And why am I allowing myself to be interrogated anyway? I'm the one that has a question.
"Look...I don't give out my email address...This is what I want to know....does my Brother 560 fax machine have ECM or not?"
"What is the model number, sir?"
"It says Brother FAX-560 Personal Plain Paper Fax."
"Can you tell me what the serial number is?"
"Huh? What do you need that for? Where is it?"

I stand up and pick up the fax machine that I'm talking on. It's full of printer paper, of course, because it's a "plain paper fax". I look on the back...there's nothing there...no serial number.

"It's on the bottom," he replies.

So now, he wants me to dump all of the paper out of the fax machine that I'm holding and talking on and now I've had enough.

"Look - forget the fucking serial number. All I want to know is this....does this fucking fax has ECM or not?"

At this point, we apparently got disconnected. I called back and got a woman on the phone and I refused to tell her anything. Not my name, not my address, not my email address, not my phone number. I justed asked her if, in fact, the Brother FAX-560 has ECM or not. At first, she assured me that it did, but after much checking and double-checking, she changed her mind and said it didn't have ECM. Then, I asked her what the "baud rate" was, and she had no idea what "baud" meant and had never the term. She didn't know what a baud rate was or if it could be changed.

She kept putting me on hold and doing God knows what and she really just obviously had no clue about the Brother FAX-560. I may as well have been asking her for arcane details of the lunar rover.

"Does anyone there know anything about this fax machine? Or are you just reading the same user guide I am?" I asked.

She apologized and profusely and finally transferred me to a guy who again attempted to interrogate me for my name and phone number. I'm like "Look....I'm not giving you my phone number. Y'all have never called me back so what's the point? What I want to know is this - What speed does the Brother FAX-560 transmit at?"

I know you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but the guy I was talking to sounded like he was in Shanghai, so I doubt very seriously he was offended by my incorrect grammar.

"It depends on what you set the resolution at..." he began.

"No, it doesn't," I countered. I'd had enough of their bullshit. These people don't know any more about the Brother FAX-560 than I do. Probably, in truth, they know much less. But now, I finally had a question that Brother should be able to answer that wasn't in the owner's manual. What speed does the fax machine operate at? If it can't be changed, then so be it, but it has to have a transmission rate. I've read that it's 9600 baud, but I'm not sure if that's true or not.

Finally, he came back and said that it operated at 9600 baud and that I couldn't change it. This is odd though, because all of the fax machine tips for working with Vonage say to turn off ECM and set the baud rate to 9600 baud, and this machine doesn't have ECM and only runs at 9600 baud and it won't work. Go figure.

Posted by Rob Kiser on March 26, 2008 at 10:53 PM


I am sorry you have been through such a hassle, but you do make it sound like a humorous joke. You definately have a way with stories. Have you tried the other suggestions listed such as
1. Are you connected using a splitter?
2. Is the Vonage device or fax machine plugged into a surge protector? Try plugging direct into the wall outlet if possible. (this could be the issue with poor line condition as the fax is amplifying any static caused by other devices using the same power strip).
3. Make sure Vonage has made the appropriate changes on your vonage device.

You may be having an issue with your PAP2 - Those devices can be troublesome - that's why Vonage doesn't sell them anymore.

Hope one of the suggestions helped.

Thanks for the link!

Posted by: Voip Frustration on April 29, 2008 at 12:49 PM

same machine, actually works 'mostly' on vonage w vonage 4 port router, 2 phone jacks, wireless. **didn't** work on my PAP2-- nor did 2 phones, simultainiously... [so I upgraded for another $100... :( ] My 560 manual says 'yes' ECM, takes up memory but not how to disable... I too 'd like to disable it for certain problematic faxes..

Posted by: archie on June 27, 2008 at 2:28 PM

hey- guess what? try 'overseas mode' from the send menu... bet it turns ECM off. It got thru on my one problem # anyway.. hope you didn't buy a new machine. ;]

Posted by: archie on June 27, 2008 at 2:50 PM

Just adding my two cents here, in order to disable ECM on a Brother 4750e, do following:

Maintenance Mode:
Hold down “menu� while powering on
Type 10
Type 22
Type 11 (will change to 11000000)
Hit “Set�
Type 99 (will reboot)

Apparently this both enables ECM and changes baud to 14400/9600 (the tech was not sure which).


Posted by: Dan on September 26, 2008 at 9:53 AM

I never understood why providers tell their customers to turn off ECM mode. In my testing, I find that ECM mode is more reliable over VoIP. Mostly because Non-ECM will say Complete or Success, but pages could be missing, blank, or cut off in the middle. ECM cures that and a Complete will be 100% sure. Also 9600 vs 14400 baud is not a large difference in terms of modem reliability with line noise and general VoIP glitchyness. If your machine can't lower the baud rate independently of ECM, just leave it ECM enabled and 14400 baud. Better to be sure not to have pages go missing.

Posted by: jm on September 27, 2010 at 4:15 AM

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