Thursday, 23 December 2010
The Fritz Box 7170

fritzI've always had a problem choosing ADSL modems. They've had a habit of letting me down and just being downright unreliable. As my wife works from home, reliable internet access is essential and we in the past have faced many issues with our Internet access, most of these issues being down to the BT Home Hub which for reasons only known to BT will drop the connection and suddenly choose to run an upgrade patch on itself. It did this without asking and with no thought to what important work was being done on the Internet at the time.

Other times Internet access would drop completely and the only way to get it back was to reboot the dreaded BT Home Hub. What was worse is that I had two SIP phone lines coming through my Internet connection. The BT Home Hub was awful at routing any traffic to the phones making them unreliable. 

Having put up with this issue for such a long time I told myself enough was enough and decided to trawl around the Internet to find the best solution. Just about everyone complained about the popular makes of ADSL routers when reading the reviews on Amazon. Then I spotted something called a Fritz! Box on Sipgates website, it was definitely more expensive than the others but doing more research found that people had nothing but good things to say about it. I decided to see if I could get it a bit cheaper. Searching Amazon I found the above model the 7170 for £73. It appeared to be an older model, but it still had many of the features found in the newer models so I placed my order.

The Fritz!Box was simplicity itself to setup. I moved the box over to the IP range I use at home unplugged by BT Home Hub, plugged in the Fritz!Box and it just worked! So far so good, I then decided to setup my SIPGate phone numbers on the box, in order to do this I turned advanced settings on the box on first. Then I entered my SIPGate details and tested calling the numbers, they worked first time and were crystal clear! There was no need to configure any ports on the box's in built firewall everything just worked out of the box. It was the first time I had ever managed to setup a SIP device so easily. I then decided to open port 80 on the firewall for my web server and that worked without any issues. The only thing I had left was my old BT Hub Phone number, after a little bit of research I found I was able to set this up on the Fritz!Box with no problems and it also worked first time. Not bad, not bad at all..

Looking through the screens for the Fritz!Box I realised it had a lot more to offer than I thought actually came with the box. It had built in multiple answer phones, a fax machine, NAS drive interface, UPNP Media Server, USB print server interface and a VPN client! The answer phone was easy to setup and I discovered I could also route calls based on caller id. So in theory I could route calls that withhold their numbers to an answering machine as they are more than likely sales calls.

A month on and the Fritz!Box has been nothing but reliable. Where we have had Internet problems the box has seamlessly detected them and reset the Internet connection in many cases without us even realising it. I suppose the old adage, you get what you pay for is so true with the Fritz!Box. The Fritz!Box has also reminded me just how reliable German engineering really is.

posted on Thursday, 23 December 2010 13:51:09 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 17 December 2009
Skype Online Number not working?

I recently purchased a Skype Online number and could not figure out for the life of me why I kept on getting the message "The number you have dialled has not been recognised.." when I tried to call it. It seems there is a Skype privacy setting that doesn't appear to be on the FAQ's on the Skype site. If it is a I must have missed it.

In the Skype client go to Tools > Options and then click on Privacy and then on Privacy Settings.

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Ensure that Allow calls to my online number(s) from. is set to "anyone". In my case it has been set to "phone numbers in my Contact list only". After changing this setting I was able to receive calls. 

posted on Thursday, 17 December 2009 11:10:46 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 14 July 2007
My new VOIP toys

qpe_v601_01 Every few months I collect the spare coins I take out of my pocket and leave on the side table at night because they weigh down my wallet too much. If I'm lucky I can usually put enough pennies together for my gadget fund. This months gadget is the QPE V601 wireless VOIP communicator which works with Skype.

Its so cool! Instead of having to talk into your PC's microphone and looking like a complete idiot to the rest of your mates in the office you can actually walk away from the PC and use this device (up to a maximum range of 10 meters). I have tested it with both Skype, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and VOIP cheap and the quality is excellent. I have only had a few problems where I have not set my Skype to use the proper sound device in this case being the QPE which of course relayed the Skype call through my laptop speakers instead.

My other device is an optical mouse which doubles up as a VOIP phone! How cool is that? The mouse rings and you just put it against your ear and talk. All these gadgets can be founds at Maplins for a total sum of £28, not bad hey?

posted on Saturday, 14 July 2007 18:45:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 02 July 2007
BT Hi-Def phone anyone?

Got a call from BT the other day offering me a free BT Hi-Def phone if I agreed to stay with BT for another 18 months. Well I've been with BT for such a long time now and while other friends on other broadband providers have had all kinds of problems I have not had a single complaint with BT. The service is always up and its very rare for it to be down, their customer service is easy to get through to and they actually know what they are doing unlike other broadband providers. So I said yes to the man on the phone and in return a got a further discount on my bill and a sought after BT Home Hub Hi-Def phone.

BT's IP phone technology is interesting, you can't help but feel that the companies vision is to eventually go fully IP with their whole network. However one thing I absolutely love about  normal PSTN phones is that they just work. IP telephony can go wrong so often depending on what you have running on your network.

posted on Monday, 02 July 2007 21:57:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 16 June 2007
Get cheaper phone calls

Friends and colleagues are often amazed when I show them how easy it really is to get cheap or even free phone calls.

I've traveled a fair amount and when ever I do I always use one of the many VIOP based Internet phone service to stay in contact with my wife. VOIP stands for Voice Over IP, which in simple terms basically means sending a phone call over the Internet to you and me. Several companies have popped up over the years that offer such a service and they are Vonage, SIPGate, Nikotel, Skype and now even BT. As you have probably guessed being the VOIP geek that I am I have accounts with all 5 of these services.

The service I have come to like the most is SIPGate, you can sign up online with these guys and select yourself a real UK phone number for free! Thats right no line rental and no monthly fee. All you do is just pay for calls as you would do with a pay as you go mobile phone. SIPGate works by using something called the SIP protocol its an open standard for voice communication. With SIPGate you have the option of having a soft phone, ie a phone that is installed on your PC or getting a little box that plugs into your broadband and into which you plug a real phone. The other mentioned above are more or less the same however they charge you for having a phone number with them unlike SIPGate.

So why would you want an Internet phone line?

Well lets examine this for a minute, with an Internet phone if you move house to another city you basically get to take your phone number with you, no number changing! This also means if you are in a completely different country and you have your phone plugged into the Internet people phoning you on your UK phone line can reach you in the states for example at the cost of a local phone call. That's a lot cheaper than mobile phone roaming charges which if you face is just day light robbery. At the moment I also have a US phone number with Nikotel which relatives over in the States can call me on over here in the UK. Usually with these operators and especially Skype will allow you to make free phone calls to other people using the same service, great hu?

If you you're VOIP interests you and you need a little advice -give me a shout by dropping me a comment.

posted on Saturday, 16 June 2007 00:08:39 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 19 March 2007
Free calls over the Internet

Check this out for fee calls over the Internet. Its a bit like a Skype interface and I am still not sure how they are able to offer 300 free minutes of calls but it works! :)

posted on Monday, 19 March 2007 13:22:25 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]