It's not just phone calls starting to zip through the Internet.
You can fax too.
Several Internet fax services offer consumers low-priced access to fax machines around the world.
"Anyone who can send an e-mail can send a fax," says Tom Murawski, president of FaxSav, a leading Internet faxing service. In a year and a half of operation, the Edison, N.J., company has attracted 45,000 customers from 160 countries around the world.
FaxSav's pitch is price: Rates are 30 to 50 percent below what it would cost to send faxes over telephone lines. Some of its best deals are for customers outside the United States.
Sending a one-page fax from China to the US, for example, costs about $2 using regular phone lines, 15 cents via FaxSav.
Other services, such as Faxaway (www.faxaway.com), convert all your e-mail messages to faxes and send them anywhere in the world for as little as 10 cents. Other companies, such as Atlaslink (www.atlaslink.com) and HT-Net (www.twsp.com), also allow you to receive faxes in the form of e-mail.
Eventually, e-mail with full graphics capability may make such services obsolete.
So far, though, the world has more fax machines than computers. The Internet fax business is booming.