AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390

AVM isn’t a particularly well-known brand in the UK, but in Germany it’s the top ADSL router manufacturer, with over 50 percent market share. The Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 adds several new features to those of the ageing flagship model, the WLAN 7270, while retaining much of that device’s styling.

Speed is the main theme of the 7370: it features four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, support for 100Mbps VDSL2 internet connections, plus concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networking, courtesy of two Atheros AR9220 chips. The external 2×3 MIMO antenna configuration of the 7270 has been replaced by an internal 2×2 setup, with each radio having a dual antenna PCB located under the small case ‘fins’.

There’s an integrated modem supporting ADSL, ADSL2+ or VDSL2 services, or alternatively it can connect direct via ISDN, a cable modem or a 3G USB dongle in one of the two USB ports. The analogue phone line port is shared with the DSL port, necessitating the use of a proprietary Y-cable (supplied) if you want to integrate fixed line telephony with the VoIP functions. For cable modems, one of the LAN ports has to be sacrificed. The rear port layout is identical to the 7270, with two analogue phone ports and an ISDN S0 port. The second USB port is located at the side of the unit; both ports support printers (via a supplied software applet) or USB storage devices.

AVM has made sure that setup and configuration is as simple as possible, with a connection wizard kicking in the first time you launch a browser after commissioning the router. Wizards are also used to setup the telephony features that are one of the 7390’s prime strengths — although they are little changed from those found on the 7270.

In addition to eight ISDN devices, an analogue line and two analogue telephony devices, the 7390 supports up to 10 SIP accounts and has five built-in answering machines plus fax reception. An integrated DECT base station can handle up to six GAP-compatible handsets. Call diversion is easy to setup, as are dialling rules. Failback to the fixed line in the case of VoIP failure can be enabled, but if router power fails analogue phones aren’t passed through to the fixed line.

The 7390 is mainly focused on consumers, so digging down to more advanced networking settings requires the ‘Expert’ mode to be enabled. This gives additional menu options such as port forwarding and static route creation, but this isn’t a router with advanced traffic management capabilities. A ‘Child Protection’ feature simply restricts web access per device on a customisable schedule. There are basic bandwidth management features, allowing you to define TCP/UDP port ranges or specific protocols (GRE, ESP or ICMP) as ‘real-time’, ‘prioritized’ or ‘background’. Eight simultaneous Ipsec VPN connections are supported, using AVM’s own free client software and configuration wizard. The manual and context-sensitive help are commendably clear and concise.

We tried out a 3G connection with Huawei E160G and ZTE MF627 dongles, but only the Huawei unit was recognised. 3G can’t be used as an automatic backup connection, though — it has to be enabled manually. Wireless settings are comprehensive, with a handy site monitor. Transmit power can be managed automatically and the radios scheduled to shut down at night. Using Passmark Software’s network throughput tests, we found 2.4GHz performance to be on a par with the 7270, achieving a respectable 60Mbps at 1m and around 10Mbps at 25Mbps in a noisy domestic environment; 5GHz performance tailed off rapidly over about 10m.

Unusually, the 7390 has 512MB of internal Flash file storage, enabling the NAS and media streaming options to be tried out without adding an external device. It’s also used by AVM to store some of the product documentation. Storage can be accessed via Samba or FTP, although there’s only a single level of password protection available. Media files can be streamed to any UPnP device.

AVM tends to add lots of new features via firmware updates, and the 7390 is due a major new revision almost immediately it starts shipping to the UK. This adds a guest wireless network capability and some enhancements to the NAS features, as well as full IPv6 support. There are some major tweaks to the user interface too, although as we only saw a beta version we’re not sure of the full extent of these.