After I plugged the Fritz! box in for the first time and configured it to use Voipstunt for all international calls, I reached for my ISDN phone connected to it and placed an international call. I was surprised by the little message appearing on ISDN phone display saying “VOIP 1723″. Wow! That was neat. For curiosity sake, I tried a sample toll-free number which was meant to go through PSTN. The phone now said “ISDN 328033″. Cool.
It seems that Fritz! is loaded with many such gems such as the one described above.
The 7050 (and its cousins 5050 and 7170) are one of the few (or maybe the only) affordable ATAs with ISDN BRI ports for both FXS and FXO interfaces. That means it can act as an ISDN PBX for up to 8 ISDN phones hooked to the FON S0 port on the Fritz, and yet you can add 3 analogue extensions into picture. The external PSTN line (FXO) can be either analogue or ISDN.
The web configuration interface is very well laid out and it’s geared towards simplicity. It has two modes: standard and expert. As expected, the expert interface gives more configuration option and is necessity, for example, if your Fritz is behind a cable modem.
VoIP accounts configuration
Fritz! supports up to 10 VoIP accounts and can be registered on all of them. International prefix and country code, as well as local area prefix and code can be configured separately for each account, so that Fritz! can do a simple number manipulation.
For example, Voipstunt requires all calls to be placed as 00 + country code + area code + subscriber number. Now, if your Fritz! sits in some London office and you want to avoid dialing 00442012345678 every time you call home from work telling you’re late, you can configure ‘00′ as intl. prefix, ‘44′ for country code, ‘0′ for area prefix and ‘20′ for area code. In that configuration, all numbers that have neither intl. or area prefix will be considered local, and Fritz! will prepend 004420 in front of them. If a number starts with single digit 0, it will be stripped and 0044 prefixed to it. If a number starts with 00 (intl.prefix) it will be dialled as is.
You can configure each analogue port to react to incoming VoIP calls for one or more VoIP accounts as well as ISDN MSNs.
To chose which VoIP calls you’ll be receiving on your ISDN phone, you have to configure it on the phone itself. This might be a bit problematic since most phones have limited number of configurable MSN entries, and that limit can be very low. Bear in mind that each VoIP provider is allocated an arbitrary internal (virtual) MSN, that must have a matching MSN entry in your phone if you want your phone to receieve incoming calls for that VoIP account. Or, you can delete all MSN entries in your phone, so it will react on all incoming calls.
That is really nice ISDN trick since you can find out, just by looking on your phone display, which VoIP account is ringing. “Call to 1723 from xxxxx” or similar (depending on your phone) indicates that you just received a call on your Voipstunt VoIP-in number.
So to enjoy full functionality of your Fritz! 7050, an investment in ISDN phones might be very smart decision, regardless of the type of your PSTN connection.
The dialing Rules
I was a bit disappointed at first to realize that no complex dialing rules are supported. Fritz! looks for the longest entry in the dialing rules that fully matches from the start of the dialled number and that’s it. So given a sample dialing plan:
… calls to Zagreb (003851xxxx) will go over the Voipstunt account (the 003859 dialing rule doesn’t fully match), while calls to Croatia mobiles will go over Voipfone.
Call by Call
In some countries it is possible to select a PSTN operator by placing an appropriate prefix. You can define up to 10 prefixes that are triggerred by the dialing rules.
Basically, you select the MSN for which you want to enable the Call-Through via a drop-down select. Keep in mind that MSN can be either PSTN numbers or VoIP virtual MSNs.
When Fritz! box receives the call on the MSN designated for Call-Through, it answers the call with a special tone, awaiting for caller to supply the PIN (4 digits). If PIN is correct, Fritz! sends a short beep as a confirmation. At this point you’re hooked to Fritz! PBX, so that you can enter local extensions to reach the phones connected to your Fritz! or you can dial ‘0′ for outside line, and then the desired number.
The dialing is then performed using the defined dialing rules. If none matches, the dialing is performed using the preferred method defined for Call-Through (ISDN or selected VoIP provider). When a call to final destination has been established, it can be terminated with a pound key (#). You’re now back to PBX and you can place another call (don’t forget 0 for external line) etc.
The access to Call-Through functionality can optionally be restricted by Caller ID. The access list holds max. 8 entries.
If you want to use 7050 as a DSL modem, you connect the output from a splitter to the DSL port. In that case DSL connection can be shared by computers attached to both LAN A and LAN B ports.
In case you have a cable connection (or any other broadband connectivity that ends up with good old Ethernet), you connect it to LAN A port and select the appropriate option in the ‘Internet’ configuration page. You can further select whether the Fritz! will provide a NAT routing to the computers attached to the LAN B port.
FON SO is used to connect your ISDN terminal equipment.
FON 1, 2 and 3 are for analogue telephones.
USB port can only be used to provide network connectivity to a computer attached to it.
LAN B and LAN A ports are described above.
POWER is 12V 1.2A DC.
Wireless can be set up in normal (AP), repeater (WDS) mode or completely turned off.
Only 5 LEDs are provided, which somewhat hides the functionality and built-in complexity.
“Internet” with a handset icon. Lit when VoIP call is conducted.
“Festnetz” with a handset icon. PSTN call is underway.
“DSL”. Probably lits when DSL signal is present (couldn’t check it
b/c I have cable). For cable users, lits when DHCP lease is obtained or PPPoE session established (depending on the encapsulation used by your ISP).
“INFO”. Blinks during firmware upgrade.
In summary, a combined DSL modem and wireless router, ATA and PBX. Unfortunately it doesn’t make coffee!
Positive: Excellent price/functionality ratio
Negatives: does not support G729 or G723 and no support for in-band DTMF
In final conclusion, the Fritz! is an excellent device and I would recommend it. However, lack of in-band DTMF and support for G723 and G729 codecs lowers the final rating to 4 1/2.
This review is based on Fritz! box fon WLAN 7050 (or just 7050) available across the whole of Europe. It’s not, however, the same device that Sipgate sell. The Sipgate device has the same overall functionality, but lacks the LAN router and WiFi AP elements.