- Review Price: £119.00
There was a time when German communications company AVM had a fairly large presence in the UK market place as its expertise with ISDN put it ahead of much of the competition. However, it didn’t react quickly enough to BT’s wholesale pricing slaughter of its ISDN services at the end of the 90s and faded away over the ensuing years. Well, it’s back again and this time it’s thrusting itself at the broadband market with an ADSL router that looks to have more than a few tricks up its sleeve.
This slim plastic slab comes with an integral ADSL modem and a single LAN port which can be used to link a PC directly or be connected to another hub or switch. Not very exciting so far but the router delivers support for VoIP using the SIP protocol and is a two port PBX which allows you to make phone calls either over the Internet or a landline. It has a pair of RJ-11 ports for linking analogue devices such as phones or fax machines and another port for connecting to an analogue or ISDN landline. ADSL users install a splitter (which is not included) and connect the two cables to the relevant ports. Note that the modem only supports 8Mbit/sec downstream and 1Mbit/sec upstream. Wireless also comes into the picture as the router incorporates an 802.11b/g access point which also supports 125Mbit/sec g++ speeds. There’s more as the router has a USB port for directly connecting a PC using the bundled Windows drivers.
Unfortunately, installation got off to a poor start as the router refused to recognise our BT Broadband ADSL connection. The solution was simple as the unit was supplied with firmware v08.03.91 and needed to be upgraded to v08.04.02. However, this created a Catch-22 situation as the upgrade must be downloaded from AVM’s web site. Fortunately, we were able to use another router to regain Internet access to download the file but many others won’t be so fortunate. With the upgrade in action we had no further problems and after logging on to the router’s web interface we followed a quick start wizard which helps set up your ISP account. Usefully, it also sniffs out the VPI and VCI values and works out whether you’re using PPPoE or PPPoA. AVM makes light work of VoIP setup as you only enter minimal account details. We tested this with our sipgate test account which took mere seconds to get going as we only needed to enter our Internet phone number, the account ID and password and the SIP registrar URL.
The web interface home page opens with a detailed report on all ports, the Internet connection and uptime and SIP registration status. The Internet section provides an online metering service which is geared up for Internet accounts that are billed on time and usage. You can set rates based on time and accumulated download volume and break the connection or flash the info LED if these are exceeded during the month. For port forwarding you can select a predefined service or create custom entries which can include single ports or ranges and the IP address and port they are to be forwarded to. Wireless security features are extensive with both 64/128-bit WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption on offer along with SSID masking.
The fun starts with the telephony options and once connected calls can be made over landlines without any further configuration. If devices are attached to both ports they will both ring for an incoming call and either can be used for outgoing calls. Things get more interesting with VoIP in the mix as you can set up dialling rules that will select one mode dependent on the number being called. The perfect example is a call to the emergency services as a default rule automatically causes the landline to be used for this. You can add your own rules which include full or partial phone numbers or ranges and assign them to either the landline or VoIP service. You can also add rules that block access to numbers and ranges if required.
All incoming and outgoing calls and their duration are logged by the router and this applies to both VoIP and the landline. Click on any entry and you can quick dial it and assign the call to one handset. If the Internet connection is unavailable you can force all outgoing calls to the landline and there’s even an alarm clock function that causes one or all phones to ring at a specified time on selected days. Last but not least is a smart Night Service where for a specific time period each day the router will switch off the wireless access point and stop all the phones ringing.
Initially, the Fritz!Box Fon WLAN looks a little pricey but for telephony functions it really takes some beating as it offers a wealth of features you’ll be hard pushed to find elsewhere at this price. Apart from our firmware related problem, we found it very easy to use with all the various options well documented and simple to configure.
The CD-ROM provides a good tutorial on wiring the router up.
Internet activity is recorded and can be used the limit the time a connection is maintained for.
All calls are logged and selecting an entry provides a quick dial function.
Dialling rules determine which line is used when a call is being made.
The router also provides a good range of wireless security features.
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