New FRITZ!Box modem becomes a smart home hub by Zigbee
Not many people know FRITZ!, but a lot of people know something about it. Whether you bought a modem separately or just received one from your provider, there is a good chance that it is a FRITZ!Box. But, possibly an outdated copy. With the new FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro, the company behind the brand, AVM, is taking new steps in the smart home world by introducing a modem that is also a smart home hub. We talked about it with country manager Eric van Uden, who has been with the company since 2000.
Bringing technology together
2023 is largely about bringing technology together. We see this in the Zigbee smart home protocol that is being used in more and more products, but also in the new Mattter smart home standard, for example. Many major brands have already committed to providing their products with this standard, including FRITZ!, whose goal is to have a product for every type of connection. The new FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro (which resembles a collection of cutting blocks) even has built-in smart home functions: you can add and control smart home products using the MyFRITZ!App. And yes, that is actually a very good idea.
Although it may sound strange that a company AVM with its brand FRITZ! of the modems suddenly steps into smart home, it is not the first step. It already had a smart home line, but not yet a hub as innovative as FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro. It is a very logical solution for your smart home: after all, there is something that all your smart home gadgets have in common, namely that they are all online and you simply need a modem for that. So yes, why not equip that modem with smart home options via the app? All FRITZ!Boxes from 2014, which in some cases still contain the old firmware, receive the new firmware to make this possible.
FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro also impresses with its many connectivity options and specifications. With the FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro, AVM combines fiber optics and DSL in one device for the first time. Furthermore, it offers a tri-band Mesh including 6 GHz, the new third Wi-Fi frequency band. In addition, FRITZ!Box 5690 Pro also supports Wi-Fi 7. Wi-Fi 7, yes, it already exists. Eric: “Wi-Fi 7 has not yet been standardized, but what is already available is already a long way off. The official Wi-Fi 7 standard is expected in the first quarter of 2024. If there are any changes then, we can solve them with a software update. Still, Wi-Fi 7 does raise questions. People are still getting used to Wi-Fi 6, if they know what it is at all. So how are you going to market Wi-Fi 7?
“Wi-Fi standards are catching up faster and faster. That is inconvenient for providers, because they buy a product and want to use it for years. We think it makes sense to skip Wi-Fi 6e and opt for the next standard. That is certainly complicated for customers, but that is why it is up to us to get the story across the stage properly. At the same time, due to the free choice of modems that we have recently had in the Netherlands, there is more attention for modems.
Free modem choice
“We are happy with the free choice of modem. If you have a family with two daughters living at home who do all sorts of things online, a woman who has different needs for her work and someone who uses a VPN connection, for example because she works from home, then you have completely different modem needs than someone who lives alone and only email processed. A smartphone is also a personal choice and so is a modem. However, 33 percent know that there is free modem choice: that means that we still want to make it clear to 67 percent.”
Modems can sometimes be enormously out of date. They are often lying or hanging in a meter cupboard and people don’t really look at them often. “When XS4All customers migrated to KPN, we encountered products from 2008. We are proud that there are still routers from 2008 in the field, which shows quality. But on the other hand, they no longer fit the needs of today’s customers. We will soon provide products from 2014 with a new firmware update, but not products before that. And yes, it will eventually stop: We want to keep a product alive for a very long time, but there must be room in the memory. We would like to see providers do their best to clean up those old modems. European legislation is being worked on. Who is responsible for updates of such a product?
And, what also plays a role with this company, is that it is not only for sale directly in the store. It has a lot to do with providers, such as Ziggo and KPN. “However, we do not build products with the provider in mind: we start from the end user. However, our largest customers are of course the providers who often order tens of thousands of devices at the same time. We have to take DSL into account, because although fiber optic connections are popping up like mushrooms, 40 percent of the market is still DSL. And whatever type of internet you have: you want a high speed that is reliable.”
In addition, FRITZ! with even more new products, such as a fiber optic modem called FRITZ!Box 5690 XGS that also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7, in addition to speeds of up to 10 gigabits. This modem also works on Zigbee and supports Matter. It also presented a device that you can plug into a socket for a fast mobile network. The new FRITZ!Box 6860 5G achieves data rates of up to 1.3 gigabit/s. This device has Wi-Fi 6 support, but not Wi-Fi 7.
So there is plenty to do at FRITZ!, which is also expanding its services in addition to these products, such as a software system that gives providers more insight into what may go wrong with the connection in people’s homes (although the customer must first give permission for this). We are certainly not as far along in the Netherlands as we are in China, where modems and routers are specially designed devices that we place in the middle of our desks, but we don’t have to. As long as the functionality is there and FRITZ! at least very aware of it. Not only by keeping an eye on laws and regulations, but also by introducing a device that is at home in all kinds of markets, even one that we will probably only be able to fully use in the future.
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