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Why it’s time to go digital with your franking machine

As of the start of 2015, there were 187 million households who still had analogue cable, worldwide. While this may seem like a lot, it’s small compared to over a billion households that are wired for digital1.

“If you’re in an environment where everything’s wired, we can support you … If you’re in an environment where it’s pure wireless, we can do that, too.” Chris Giles
VP of Business Development, Global Product Management
Pitney Bowes

So, it’s interesting to note that many franking machines are still attached to analogue networks. Moreover, this old technology is becoming less and less appealing or practical.

“It’s a slow connection, fraught with all of the old issues of dial-up technology,” says Chris Giles, vice president of Business Development and Global Product Management at Pitney Bowes, referring to the analogue network.  Giles would like to see 100 percent of customers switch over to a digital connection in the near future. That’s a move that he believes will greatly increase customer satisfaction.

“A digital connection is fast, reliable, consistent, and repeatable,” Giles says. He adds that the analogue network may soon be gone, as many traditional phone service providers are encouraging their customers to go digital as well.

Here are four good reasons to make the switch now.

1. Speed
It’s probably no surprise that a digital connection is faster than an analogue one, but users often don’t grasp the magnitude of the different until after they make the switch.

“A dial-up Internet connection can be anywhere from 1.2 to 56 kilobytes per second,” Giles explains. “A digital connection is 100 megabytes per second. It’s not twice as fast. It’s a thousand times faster.”

This speed difference really shows up when customers download updates, which can take up to an hour via dial-up, compared to a couple of minutes, in general, with a digital connection. “In many cases, customers using analogue put off doing the updates, because they don’t want to wait an hour when they may need to use the machine,” Giles notes.

Moving to a digital connection can help move mail and shipping processing faster overall, moving towards a more digital mailroom.

2. Reliability
Not only is an analogue connection slower, it can often stall out, at which point the user needs to start the download all over again. “Trying to keep an analogue connection alive for extended periods of times is very, very difficult,” Giles says. While a digital connection may get lost for a second or two, downloads start right back up from where they left off.

Wayne Sos, president and owner of a U.S.-based telecommunications consulting practice, says that switching over to a digital connection helped one of his clients reduce repair instances by 90 percent, which vastly reduced downtime.

3. Convenience
Wi-Fi is one of several different ways customers can connect their devices to a digital network. That’s a stark contrast from the analogue world, where a dedicated dial-up line is the only option.

Giles explains that Pitney Bowes franking machines can be connected via Wi-Fi, an Ethernet connection, or even through a USB port to an Internet-connected computer. Pitney Bowes also offers a cellular broadband connection option on some machines. “If you’re in an environment where everything’s wired, we can support you,” Giles says. “If you’re in an environment where it’s pure wireless, we can do that, too.”

With wireless options now available, users can move their digitally connected mailing machines anywhere. That’s a huge change. Giles says some customers using analogue haven’t been able to find room for their machines near a phone line, and so they’ve had to physically remove their franking machines and take them to their fax machines every time they want to add postage. Then, they have to reinstall the franking machine and finally they can get to their mailings.

A digital connection also allows for automatic updates, meaning users can stop worrying about missing one - as has sometimes happened with customers using an analogue connection. “Some customers didn’t get the update when they really needed it,” Giles says. “Because they missed the update, they would choose the wrong prices on their mailing, and the mail would get rejected by the postal service.”

4. Affordability
Wayne Sos, of WayComm Consulting, says the customer mentioned earlier also decreased their telecommunications costs by 20 percent. How? Analogue customers have to pay for a dedicated phone line to connect their franking machines. So, when customers switch to digital, they eliminate that cost. Plus, Giles notes, most businesses are already paying for broadband Internet, so they won’t necessarily have to pay for a new digital connection.

“Roughly seventy-five percent of all small businesses in the U.K. have broadband Internet access,” Giles points out.He notes that all Pitney Bowes franking machines ship with at least one way to connect digitally, although some connection options like Wi-Fi can cost extra, depending on the device.

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The world is moving this way.

“There’s going to be far fewer analogue connections as we move forward,” explains Giles. “The carriers don’t want to provide them. They know they can provide better service with digital.”

Sos echoes the point. “The traditional carriers are looking to get out of the analogue business because it’s so expensive to maintain,” he says. “The network runs on copper wires, and copper is subject to things like corrosion and requires repairs.” He points to Verizon in the U.S., which recently announced that it has cut employees and reduced capital expenditures on the wire-line side of its business, while simultaneously growing its fiberoptic network. The company has also been aggressively trying to get its own customers to make the switch.

All new Pitney Bowes customers are now able to connect via Internet.  In around ten years, Sos estimates - the analogue network will be a thing of the past.


1 One billion digital TV households worldwide (6/10/2015)
2 The Impact of Broadband Speed and Price on Small Business by Columbia Telecommunications Corporation