the digital inquisition

What's (so special about) the Fritz!Box Fon?

By  , in , posted: 26-May-2007 12:36

Fritz!Box Fon is a product family of devices, combining ADSL-modem, broadband router and VoIP-capable PBX (private branch exchange) in a handy box, produced by Germany's leading supplier of ADSL-hardware, Berlin-based AVM. The Fritz!Box Fon is based on the Fritz!Box - without "Fon" - which doesn't provide any VoIP-capability.

The Fritz!Box Fon comes in about a dozen versions (overview of versions), which mainly differ in connectivity and are partly discontinued. Except for the discontinued Fritz!Box Fon ATA 1020 all models come with an integrated ADSL2+ modem, however there are some characteristics why not all versions will work in New Zealand as an ADSL modem (see this article). Anyway the FBF can also work behind an existing ADSL- or cablemodem, so in the worst case you'd have to keep your old ADSL modem running in addition to the FBF.

The versatile connectivity of the Fritz!Box Fon (to be called "FBF") consists of
  • RJ 45 DSL port,
  • RJ 45 PSTN port (for regular and ISDN telephone lines),
  • 2-3 RJ11 telephone ports (for regular telephones),
  • 1-4 RJ45 LAN Ethernet ports,
  • USB A port,
  • only models called "Fritz!Box Fon WLAN": 802.11g+ WiFi Access Point with up to 125 MBit/s
  • only models 5012, 5050, 7050, 7170 7540: internal RJ45 ISDN S0-port for connecting ISDN-devices

VoIP-enabled PBX

The great feature of the FBFs is the VoIP-enabled PBX. After connecting the FBF to both jacks of your ADSL filter (telephone and ADSL) and to your phone(s), you will be able to place and receive calls from/to your regular phone line (even if you have an ISDN line) and you will be able to place and receive calls using internet telephony (VoIP/SIP-protocol) no matter if your PC is running or not. Only the registration with one of the many mostly free providers (see future article) to get a VoIP account is required. The advantage of phoning through VoIP is reaching other VoIP users always for free on the one hand and on the other hand it is the fantastically low rates of some VoIP providers when calling regular telephone numbers. 

One of them,, will allow you making practically free calls to landlines in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, United States and many other countries for 120 days, if you charge your account with € 10, approx. NZ $ 19 (see this article).

Others like or give away accounts with national telephone numbers in the UK/Germany and so do many companies in the rest of the world. With such a free VoIP account from an overseas provider, callers there can reach you through a regular landline or mobile phone on a national number at national tariffs and so save money. (see this article)

Since the FBF supports up to 10 VoIP accounts at once, you could use for outgoing calls and have a national phone number in the UK and the US simultaneously. And besides that your phones will of course still ring when you're called on your regular telephone line.
When placing outgoing calls you can either manually decide prior to each call, which service to use (regular phone line or VoIP) by dialing 5-digit-codes like *121# or easily set up dial rules, that would always chose the cheapest way to call. (see this article)

Another great feature is the call-through function of the FBF. You can simply make the FBF answering calls to one of your numbers (no matter if landline or VoIP) and after entering a PIN code it will let you continue calling through landline or VoIP. That's interesting e.g., when you need to call abroad from your mobile phone - instead of directly calling a foreign number from your mobile, which would be quite expensive, you just call your home number, enter the PIN code and then you can dial the desired number through a VoIP account, so you'll only be charged a national call for the connection from your mobile phone to your FBF by your mobile provider + the e.g. the low rate for a VoIP conenction from your FBF to the call destination.

All in all you can save a lot of money through the VoIP-capabilty which will not only pay off the acquisition cost but may even render a broadband line economical, where there wasn't one before.

Finally one should mention the broad functionality of the PBX, which enables internal calls among the phones connected to the FBF, brings ENUM-support, Codec-selection for traffic-friendly usage, the possibility to use regular analgue phones as well as ISDN-phones for VoIP calls and for calls through any type of phone line (analogue and ISDN). The built-in "Traffic Shaping" option will prioritize VoIP connections over any other IP traffic, so VoIP calls won't be jammed while you're downloading from the web.
By the way, a VoIP call occupies 24-80 KBit/s depending of the codec, which can either be set manually or automatically depending on the available bandwidth. The "worst" codec (G.726-24) is better than speech quality through a GSM network (like Vodafone NZ), whereas the best one (G.711) sounds like ISDN. Actually G.711 technically exactly corresponds to the speech encoding of ISDN.

Other related posts:
How to connect a Fritz!Box Fon in New Zealand
Fritz!Box Fon and differences in ADSL standards (Annex A & Annex B)

Comment by hellonearthisman, on 27-May-2007 02:54

Nice post.  I have a question. Would phoning my landline connect me to some voip service, so I can make another call? mobile->landline->voip to who i want to call for cheap?

Author's note by inquisitor, on 27-May-2007 05:23

Indeed that's possible. I just added a paragraph ("Another great feature is the call-through function...") to my post.
By the way all my articles are subject to revision, as they are still partly incomplete.

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