Retailing at just under £100 (plus VAT), the SpeedTouch 716g offers the home and small business user a great deal of broadband and networking functionality for not very much money.
To start with you get a broadband router ready to plug straight into a BT line and connect to the Internet using both current ADSL and, when it’s implemented, ADSL2+ technology. You also get a four-port 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch and an integrated 54Mbps, 802.11g wireless interface, with a built-in firewall for security plus support for all the latest wireless encryption standards.
A USB interface is provided for users without Ethernet and, lastly, there’s support for Voice over IP (VoIP), with two analogue phone ports on the back panel which can be used to make and receive VoIP calls over the Internet using ordinary home or office handsets.
Despite all this functionality, the 716g is a remarkably compact device, and one that’s both robust and well constructed, with a small AC adapter for power. All the cables to get started are provided in the box, including an ADSL microfilter and a pair of adapters to allow ordinary phones to be plugged into the RJ11 phone ports.
Once these are all connected and the unit powered up you simply point a browser at the default IP address and a wizard steps you through the initial configuration. Not that there’s much to do other than provide an account name and password to connect to your service provider, at least not to begin with. Of course you do then have to configure the wireless interface and the VoIP option, although these are equally straightforward.
Another plus is the bundling of £2 worth of call credit for use with the VoIPTalk online gateway service, which allows VoIP users to make calls to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and vice versa. Full instructions on configuring this are included or, if you prefer, the 716g can be configured for use with any SIP or MGCP host service. Note, however, that this doesn’t include Skype, which uses its own protocols to support VoIP, and you do have to choose between SIP and MGCP when ordering.
We had no problems installing or using the router and found it to provide a high level of performance consistent with ADSL routers costing a lot more. The wireless interface, too, gave good results, as did the VoIP option, both in terms of reliability and call quality, with a good choice of Codecs (the software that digitises voice calls) on offer. The PSTN failover facility is also worth having and the provision of two phone ports is a bonus, with most other products in this price bracket only having one.
We also liked the ability to make ordinary calls rather than use VoIP, plus you get facilities to hold and transfer calls and support for call waiting and conferencing. However, there’s no breakout facility to allow a remote VoIP user to connect to the router and then onward dial via the local PSTN connection.
Part of the Thomson group, SpeedTouch routers are well respected and badged by a number of ISPs, including BT. The SpeedTouch 716g is also available from a wide range of online resellers and at this price is a pretty hard act to beat.
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