Fritz!Box and Sky Broadband

After struggling along with my Draytek Vigor 2600 router, which didn’t seem too stable on my ADSL but had some nice features, I decided that I’d like to get a new Broadband Router, the geekily named Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7270 – basically I wanted another gadget to play with, but don’t tell the wife 🙂

The Fritz!Box, with it’s latest firmware (at time of writing it is version 54.04.76), has a multitude of features, some not found on the standard ADSL Wireless Routers that you get from other manufacturers/vendors.

For instance, there’s the built-in GAP compatible DECT Base Station which means you don’t have to find more than one mains point near your BT Master Socket. There’s VOIP capability using SIP (not Skype though), USB connectivity (memory device to store Faxes on, NAS Storage, Printer connection, Stick ‘n’ Surf), Answer Machine, Fax receiver (it emails you the Fax!), Child Protection (to limit usage of devices), Night Service (so you don’t get pestered with phone calls in the middle of the night, and to switch off the Wireless if you want to), Telephone Book and Telephone Call Log, ability to block certain numbers (or “unknown” numbers). And along with all that you also get a fully functioning ADSL2+ Router and Wireless-N capability.

Phew!

So, what’s up with it then? For a start, I wanted to connect it to Sky Broadband like I did my Draytek router. But after entering all my details, I could only connect to Google! Now in the Sky T’s & C’s they don’t allow you to connect any Router except theirs, so you have to force the MAC Address from the Sky Router into your Router, which is what I’d done with the Draytek.

Unfortunately the Fritz!Box didn’t seem to have a way of doing this, so after hunting around I found out that there was an underlying Linux Operating System (I’m comfortable with Linux, so I gave it a go). Telnet to 192.168.1.1 – Arghh!

It should have a Telnet Server in there – Some Googling around got me the code to switch on the Telnet Server – you dial #96*7* from your handset and this enables a Telnet Server within the Fritz!Box (http://www.nat32.com/nat32e/htm/fritz.htm).

So once in, I set about changing the MAC Address manually, thus:

ifconfig adsl down
ifconfig adsl up hw ether 00:01:02:03:04:05

(replacing 00:01:02:03:04:05 with my MAC Address)

But this does not survive a restart.

I then tried changing the parameter macdsl_override in the /var/flash/ar7.cfg file, but this did not work and I still had to type in the commands above via telnet.

After much messing around, I found out how to override the MAC Address via the GUI (AVM support didn’t even know how to do this!). The main problem seems to be that the default for the Fritz!Box is to auto-detect the DSL ATM settings. So here is how you set it up and get Sky Broadband working on your AVM Fritz!Box (without having to Telnet to the box!):

  • Switch Expert Mode on (log into the box, Click “Settings” at the top of the page, then in the left menu click “Advanced Settings”, “System”, then “Expert Mode”. Check the box that says “Show expert settings” then click “Apply”)

To set the MAC Address (might not be required, but Sky could disable the account if you don’t do this!)

  • Ensure your Computer is plugged into LAN port 2 (see image at bottom of post)
  • From Advanced Settings / Internet / Account Information, select:
  • Internet connection via LAN 1
  • No account information required (IP)
  • Set Fritz!Box MAC Address to that required by Sky
    • Sky don’t publish the MAC address that’s required – their T’s & C’s forbid you using any router other than their own (which is a poor Sagem router). You need to login to the Sky supplied router first to determine the correct MAC Address for the ADSL connection – there’s plenty of info on the Internet on how to do this, but a good start point is here
  • Click Apply (click Okay to any warnings)

To enable the Internet connection properly (after setting the MAC Address):

  • From Advanced Settings / Internet / Account Information, select:
  • Internet connection via DSL
  • Account information required (PPPoE/PPPoA connection)
  • Enter User Name and Password for the DSL connection
  • Define ATM settings manually
  • VPI = 0
  • VCI = 38
  • Encapsulation = PPPoA/LLC
  • Click Apply (click Okay to any warnings)

And that’s all there is to it – except to say that the above method for setting the MAC Address does not work with the latest firmware, but did work with the originally supplied firmware – set it up before applying the new firmware update and it will be okay.

Since getting this up and running, I’ve found the Fritz!Box to be very stable with the DSL link staying up for weeks [edit in October: now 1 month without reboot] (it’s usually a power cut or firmware upgrade that makes me restart the device). I’ve also messed around with the VOIP stuff (some good sites for SIP / VOIP related stuff are http://www.voipuser.org/ and http://www.voiptalk.org/).

I’ve also managed to avoid tens of pesky phone calls from unsolicited sales people – they will think the phone is ringing, but the actual handsets don’t ring – so if they have legitimate business with you, they will be able to leave a voice message and you can ring them back.

In all, I like this device a lot. The main niggles I have are that there are some small areas that are not Anglicised yet. All the Web interface is available in English, but until the latest firmware upgrade, emails for the Answer Machine (yes you can receive a voice mail by email as well as dialling **600) and status updates were in German. Unfortunately the DECT telephone menus are not completely Anglicised yet (they were completely German before, and now there’s a half and half mix which is confusing).

I’d highly recommend this router – it’s a premium router with a premium price, but I think it was well worth the outlay. You can buy them from a few online retailers, such as Amazon. I bought mine from http://www.broadbandstuff.co.uk/.

So you can see what you’re getting, here’s a couple of pictures:


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