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I was quite impressed with AVM’s bizarrely named Fritz!Box Fon WLAN when we looked at it last year and the latest 7140 version builds on its successes by introducing a range of new and useful features. A key function of this router is its ability to deliver extensive VoIP functions using SIP as it operates as a two-port PBX, enabling calls to be made over the Internet and landlines as well.
The older model only has a single network port but the 7140 comes equipped with a 4-port Fast Ethernet switch. The USB port was originally used for directly connecting a PC using the bundled Windows drivers but this is now a host port and is used for connecting USB storage devices or printers. However, we were surprised to see that this is only a USB 1.1 host controller so performance for file copies is going to be seriously strangled. Wireless features haven’t changed as the 7140 also incorporates an 802.11b/g access point which supports 125Mbps g++ speeds as well.
Squeezing in the four Ethernet ports has required a rear panel redesign so the ISDN/analogue port has gone to be replaced with a somewhat cumbersome cabling arrangement. The kit includes a Y-cable for combined analogue and DSL operations where the lower RJ-45 connector is plugged into the router’s DSL port and the Y-branches go to the subscriber unit and splitter. Unfortunately, both branches are terminated with RJ-11 plugs so you may need a converter to link to a splitter. Last but not least is a small button next to the USB port which enables you to manually switch the wireless access point off and on. The DSL LED has also been replaced with a WLAN indicator so you can see at a glance if the wireless access point is operational.
Installation got off to a better start this time as AVM ensured the router had the correct firmware loaded for supporting UK ADSL lines. A quick start wizard makes extremely light work of the Internet connection as it automatically sniffed out the VPI and VCI values for our BT Broadband link and correctly worked out that we were using PPPoA. All we had to do was provide out account details and we were up and away in seconds. VoIP configuration was just as easy and we tested this with our Sipgate (www.sipgate.co.uk) account. We just needed to enter our Internet phone number, account ID and password plus the SIP registrar URL and we were making VoIP calls a few minutes later.
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