Freebox Revolution Archive

Free–ready for VDSL2 in France

Article – French language / Langue française

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – – ready for VDSL2 when you are closer

Free propose le VDSL2 sur tout son réseau dégroupé | Freenews

My Comments

The competitive environment has paid off in France especially with Free.fr .

They have wanted to head down the VDSL2 path and have equipped their Révolution modem-router for this technology.

But they wanted to have a service ready to go in October 2013 then they wanted to be sure most, if not all of their subscriber base across France can benefit from this technology and needed to test all of the infrastructure to be sure. As well, they didn’t want to publish the number of customers that were ready until they were sure of their facts.

They then went over everything and were able to know that their whole dégroupé (unbundled local-loop / sub-loop) network was ready to go VDSL2 and had the necessary equipment in place to go. The technology has been set up on a “fallback basis” where the customer would have the high bandwidth associated with the VDSL2 technology if they are closer to the exchange or connection point that is suitably equipped but fall back to regular ADSL2 conditions otherwise. The distance to benefit would be around 1500 metres or closer which would typically be places closer to town centres or other dense urban areas.

The unforgettable Freebox Révolution is already to go for VDSL2 as the customer-premises endpoint or can benefit through a software upgrade in the same way it has benefited from other newer features. It can be a proving ground for any fibre-copper deployment or redesigning a community’s telephony infrastructure to raise the issue of higher-throughput VDSL2 service for people closer to connection points but allow for better quality ADSL2 service.

Send to Kindle

Set-top boxes to increase the richness of additional information for video content

Article

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – – to have a better integrated information system for video content

Les fiches de films et séries sont de retour sur Freebox Révolution | Freenews.fr (French language / Langue française)

My Comments

Free.fr have integrated Gracenote’s video-information resource in to their latest firmware for the Freebox Player which is part of the Freebox Révolution.

This is a sign where companies like Gracenote and Rovi create data storehouses of information about every movie, TV show and key celebrity. This accurate information is provided as a service to set-top box manufacturers and TV service providers so that viewers can bring up this information on the big screen relevant to the programme they are watching or are showing interest in on the EPG. These are also designed to be “source-agnostic” so you can link to shows available on air, on a video-on-demand or catch-up TV service and held on your PVR or home network.

For films and TV shows, you have access to rich synopses, cast / crew lists, mood information, genre information and the like. As well, you could bring up information about a celebrity’s biography or their filmography – which films or TV shows they were involved with. You could do this with IMDB on your smartphone or tablet. But these set-top-box / smart-TV solutions are more about having the information one click away from what you are watching or showing interest in while some implementations have the ability to work across two screens – your mobile device and the main screen.

They would also allow for the ability to highlight “like content” that is currently available to view so you can discover what else is worth watching. But a lot of these services don’t really support any externally-curated watch-list functions where a film critic, radio personality or similar person can supply a list of shows worth viewing. This is more so with people who follow sources of quality journalism like public broadcasters, broadsheet or “compact” newspapers or the good newsmagazines; along with those of us who follow blogs about films or TV content.

Personally, I would have this function based around a Webfeed that you can “send” across your home network or the Internet to your set-top box so you can see what shows to search for based on that film critic you are following.. It would also play hand in glove with movie reviewers who want to simply provide supportive reviews to these information services.

What I see of this is the ability to pull up more about what you are watching, especially when you are watching the content with someone who is a “walking encyclopedia” about films or you see someone in that show whom you remember seeing in other TV shows.

Send to Kindle

4 years of the Freebox Révolution benchmark in France

Article

Bilan: la Freebox Révolution a quatre ans | Freenews (French language / Langue Française)

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – 4 years old (à quatre ans)

My Comments

As a consequence of the highly-competitive triple-play communications service market in France, Free had developed one of the “n-boxes” that has a lot more that is expected for this class of carrier-supplied equipment. Now this device, known as the Freebox Révolution, which is available in just about all of France for EUR€29.95 a month as part of a very tasty triple-play pack, has reached its fourth anniversary.

I have given a fair bit of editorial space to the Freebox Révolution including citing it as an example device in an article about setting up for Internet in France. This is due, not just to its exciting Philippe Starck design but due to the increasing amount of functionality that this device has come with and received over the four years. Here, Free kept with a program of frequent firmware updates which weren’t just about fixing up technical problems but were also about adding functionality to these devices, some of which I have drawn attention to on HomeNetworking01.info.

The Freebox Server was more than just a VoIP gateway with DECT base-station and wireless broadband router. Here, it had DSL and fibre support on the WAN side of the equation and a 250Gb NAS. There was even the ability for the unit to be a media player for Apple AirPlay, DLNA or online media, including playing audio content out via integrated speakers or through external active speakers. The LAN side had a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch along with 2.4Ghz three-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi, but the Freebox Révolution comes with power-supply units that have integrated HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridges. The newer iterations had been upgraded to HomePlug AV500 and the Wi-Fi on newer releases was upgraded to a dual-band dual-radio variety. Let’s not forget that some of the newer variants even came with a Femtocell that provided local mobile-phone coverage for your home as part of Free getting their paws in to a mobile-telephony service.

Firmware upgrades even had the Freebox Server acquire full Apple compatibility along with being a VPN endpoint router and one of these upgrades was fashioned as the “Freebox OS” with an interface very similar to a newer Linux distribution, one of the mobile-platform operating systems or something you would get with one of the newer high-end NAS devices. The server functionalities included UPnP AV / DLNA, Apple Time Machine, iTunes Server and a BitTorrent server, known as a “seedbox”.

The Freebox Player which served as the “décodeur” for the IP-based TV component of the triple-play service was infact a “full-blown” 3D Blu-Ray player, games console and digital-TV tuner. The gaming functionality was part of an app-store that Free operated, which was to the same standard as most smart-TV platforms, if not better. This device was also controlled by a “gyroscopic” remote control which communicated to it via Zigbee RF technology and supported “gesture-driven” operation. Lets not forget that this was a DLNA-capable media player which gained MediaRenderer functionality from a subsequent firmware upgrade. This device also served as an Internet terminal for the TV screen and even had the ability to interact with most online services courtesy of either the Web view or a native-interface “front-end” that came with one of the firmware upgrades or downloaded from the app store. There was a firmware update that give the Freebox Player “Shazam-like” song-identification abilities.

The Freebox Révolution raised the bar when it came to the concept of a premium triple-play “n-box” offer with the competitors offering systems that had very similar functionality and aesthetics. Examples of these include Numéricable’s La Box and the Neufbox Évolution. As well, I had a casual conversation with someone who came out from France and they even mentioned about someone they knew having one of these devices and being impressed with what it could do.

For me, I have viewed the Freebox Révolution as the flag-carrier for the competitive French Internet market because of the way the carriers can add more value to the equipment they supply their customers. In this way, I would place this device alongside the TGV or the Channel Tunnel as a symbol of French technological progress.

Happy Birthday, Bonne Anniversaire, Freebox Révolution!

Send to Kindle

HomePlug AV500 now available with newer Freebox Révolution

Article (French language / Langue Française)

De nouveaux Freeplugs à 500 Mbps pour la Freebox Révolution | Freenews.fr

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now available wiht HomePlug AV500

The Freebox Révolution is the first wireless modem-router to support software updating to 802.11ac through its latest software update (mise à jour). But both the Freebox Server and Freebox Player came with the “Freeplugs” which are power supplies that integrate a HomePlug AV bridge in their functionality. This is typically to link the Freebox Player in the living room to the Freebox Server in the study or home office.

Both the “Freeplugs” were compliant to the HomePlug AV specification which worked the link at a best-case line speed of 200Mbps. This is although there are many HomePlug AV500 devices that can work the link to 500Mbps and are compliant to the IEEE 1901 specification for powerline local area networks.

Free have raised the game for the Freebox Révolution by delivering newer systems with “Freeplug” power supplies that work to the HomePlug AV500 specification rather than the older HomePlug AV specification. The only problem that I see with this is that customers who own an existing Freebox Révolution can’t easily purchase these adaptors as accessories for their existing setup i.e. they are only available to customers who are upgrading existing equipment or establishing a new installation. Personally, I would recommend that they be sold as aftermarket accessories for existing users.

On the other hand, you could use separate HomePlug AV500 devices to link these boxes while the existing Freeplugs are used simply as power supplies. This could allow you to use a uninterruptable power supply with the Freebox Server to avoid loss of telephony when the power goes down.

At least this is another example of the Freebox Révolution being considered cutting-edge for carrier-supplied consumer-premises equipment especially in an Internet-service market that has healthy competition.

Send to Kindle

The latest Freebox devices now are VPN endpoints courtesy of a firmware update

Article – French language / Langue Française

Mise à jour Freebox : du Wi-Fi programmable et un VPN intégré | DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution to be a VPN endpoint

Free.fr have been adding some extra functionality to their Freebox Révolution and Freebox Crystal “n-box” Internet-gateway devices. This is being delivered through a free firmware update (version 2.1.0) as in the nature of the highly-competitive French Internet-service market and users can download and implement them in these devices.

VPN Endpoint Router

One key product is the ability for a Freebox Révolution or Freebox Crystal Internet-gateway to become a fully-fledged small-business-grade VPN router. Here, you could set these devices to work as an endpoint for a client-to-box VPN or, perhaps, a box-to-box VPN joining two small networks via the Internet backbone. For example, you could set up a secure-browsing or secure-file-transfer link to your home or small-business network in Paris or even buy a Draytek VPN router for your home network in the UK and a Freebox  Révolution for that chic French “bolthole” and establish a “box-to-box” VPN for backing up data between both locations, including making the same media available at both locations.

This is made feasible with hardware or software endpoints that work to PPTP or OpenVPN technology, which would suit software endpoints available on all the main desktop and mobile platforms as well as most other VPN endpoint routers.

Even the “seedbox” BitTorrent client integrated in these devices has been updated to be able to take advantage of the VPN functionality for user privacy.

Wi-Fi network improvements

The Freebox Révolution has been able to benefit from a software-based 802.11ac implementation which opens it up to high-speed data transfer with 802.11ac clients. Typically this would have required one to replace or add hardware to upgrade to the newer 802.11ac standard.

Similarly, the firmware has mad it easier for a Freebox user to optimise their Wi-Fi network performance by changing the channel the Wi-Fi access point is working on. It also includes a “site-survey” function which lists what Wi-Fi networks are operating on what channels at what strengths so you can choose the right channel to work on. This can be important in a neighbourhood where everyone is running a home network and could make things also easier for Free’s technical-support staff.

There is even the ability to turn Wi-FI functionality on or off according to a schedule which can be of importance for people who are sensitive to RF emissions or need to keep a lid on out-of-hours access to the Wi-Fi network.

Conclusion

You just never know what Free or other French ISPs have in store to increase the real value that they offer to their customers in that highly-competitive market.

Send to Kindle

The Femtocell is to be part of the competitive French Internet-service market

Article – French language / Langue Française

Freebox Révolution : Free intègre les boîtiers Femtocell – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now to come with a femtocell

The French have taken another step of advantage with their competitive Internet-service market. This time it’s Free who have provided a minimal-cost femtocell to their Freebox Révolution subscribers.

What is a femtocell? This is effectively a cellular-telephony base station in a small box that can provide cellular-telephony and data coverage in a premises. These boxes typically use a broadband connection as their backhaul to the service provider and are typically used to “fill in gaps” for mobile coverage in a subscriber’s home. The devices typically sold to a residential user typically provide “selected-device” coverage, namely for the devices owned by the customer’s household.

Most of the other French operators like Bouygues Télécom  have offered femtocells but at a significant extra cost. On the other hand, Free are offering the femtocell to existing Freebox Révolution subscribers for a delivery charge of EUR€10 but will be offering it as part of the equipment bundle for newer subscriptions. This is something that I see as pushing the price very low for a service like this and, like what Free had done with Internet services and mobile telephony in France, could lead to others pushing the price down for a femtocell service or including it as part of an “n-box” triple-play deal.

These will support up to 4 phones but I do see a limitation also with any femtocell product that is integrated in a modem-router. This is where you can’t relocate the femtocell device to wherever the better coverage is really needed such as to work around a “radio shadow” affecting mobile telephony.

This may be part of a trend to make cellular phones work effectively like cordless phones and work on “fixed-line” tariff charts at home but use mobile tariff charts when “out and about”. This is more important with all of the “n-box” triple-play services where the telephony component is described as being with “appels illimité” where calls from the fixed telephone to France and a lot of other destinations come part of the deal.

It is another example of what the highly-competitive French telecommunications market is all about.

Send to Kindle

A Shazam-like service integrated in a set-top box

Article – French language / Langue Française

Freebox Révolution : InfoMusic et DNLA dans une mise à jour | Numerama.fr

From the horse’s mouth

Free.fr

Press Release (French language / Langue Française – PDF)

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now with Shazam-style abilities

Often when you are watching TV, you may hear that piece of music that was used in that movie or TV show even though it may not be visibly identified.

Normally you could use Shazam or SoundHound on your smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, Windows 8) to identify the songs but you have to “cock” your device to your TV’s speaker and have Shazam running before you know when that song is to play. Here, it can be difficult if you are watching broadcast TV content in real time rather than from a user-controlled recording like a PVR, optical disc or streamed on-demand service.

In France, the country where the set-top box is not the ordinary set-top box and the pay-TV and Internet service is delivered highly competitively, Free.fr have integrated this function as part of a software upgrade for their Freebox Révolution set-top box. Here, the software version number is 1.2.11 to gain this functionality.

This software, like Sony’s TrackID Android app is powered by GraceNote music-recognition technology and works from any of the video sources passing through the Freebox Révolution Player set-top box. This includes content available on the home network.

For that matter, Free has even improved the DLNA abilities for this software by having the Freebox Révolution Player be a DLNA MediaRenderer. This means that, like with the Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray player, you can “push” image, audio and video content to this device using software like TwonkyBeam, Gizmoot or BubbleUPnP to appear on your TV.

This is another example of what the competitive telecommunications and Internet market in France is bringing about in a healthy manner.

Send to Kindle

Free upgrades its fibre customers to Gigabit broadband

Articles

Map of France

France – where Gigabit fibre is a free upgrade courtesy of Free

French ISP Free upgrades fiber customers to gigabit broadband |CNET

French ISP Free offers fiber customers 1Gbps upgrade for no cost | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

Free

English-language press release (PDF)

My Comments

Again France is showing its true colours as a highly-competitive Internet service market. What with the “n-boxes” that yield very high capabilities including network-attached storage or Blu-Ray 3D players in the set-top boxes; along with all sorts of services offered by these providers for cost-effective prices as I have written about before here in this user guide.

Now the ante has been raised further by Free who had “lit the fire” for this highly-competitive Internet service. Here, they are upgrading their fibre customers to full Gigabit capacity at no extra cost. The setup even uses the concept of “switched fibre” where each subscriber gets their own dedicated Gigabit bandwidth rather than sharing the same bandwidth. This will apply to these customers who are using the highly-strung Freebox Révolution equipment.

It could lead to a situation where other Internet providers in France start to answer Free by offering similar capacities to the public. This could be a very interesting turn for most of France and lead to a European country that can be described as being ready for technologies like 4K UHDTV or “all-IP” TV distribution. Even Brussels will be looking on very keenly as France is seen as a model of a highly-competitive market.

Send to Kindle

The Freebox Révolution benefits from Freebox OS to be like a recent NAS

Articles – French language

La Freebox Révolution accueille Freebox OS – DegroupNews.com

Mise à jour Free : capacités de partage renforcées | 59Hardware.net

My Comments

Just lately, Free had rolled out their latest firmware update for the Freebox Révolution “n-box” router. This has various improvements like cloud-assisted remote management and storage access, including management of the “FreePlug” HomePlug AV power-supply units for these devices.

But they describe this firmware not as firmware for customer-premises equipment but as “Freebox OS”. This is like placing the Freebox Révolution on the same stage as one of the recent consumer or small-business network-attached storage devices. Here, they lay out the management dashboard for this device so it reminds you of a desktop operating system’s GUI, This is carried over whether you use it from a Web browser or the freely-downloaded iOS or Android mobile apps.

They also are publishing an application-programming interface so that third-party software developers could create management programs for the Freebox Révolution. This could allow for things like management software which works native to particular host-device operating environments through improved dashboard software.

But who knows what is in store for this device once the groundwork is laid down in this operating system. For example Free could start curating an app store and software-development environment for the Freebox Révolution so that others could add functionality to this device. Think of such options as access to third-party cloud storage, additional application-level gateway functionality and, perhaps, adding business-grade features like VPN-endpoint or VoIP “virtual extension” abilities to a consumer-grade device.

It is another example of the lengths the French telecommunications companies are going to to yield multi-play Internet services that are facilitated with highly-capable equipment.

Send to Kindle

A comparative overview of the latest French triple-play “n-boxes” (French-language video)

Article – French language

Vidéo : Les box d’opérateurs au banc d’essai#?xtor=RSS-16#?xtor=RSS-16#?xtor=RSS-16

Link to video / Lien à vidéo

My comments and English-language summary

The video is comparing the “n-boxes” which are the hub of the triple-play services which are covering the highly-competitive French market as most regular HomeNetworking01.info readers will know. It also compares the triple-play services themselves for value, customer service and prowess in satisfying the pay-TV and video-on-demand needs.

I would also suggest that you have a look at my article on setting up for Internet in France if you are winging it in to that country to set up house there.

From the video

Most powerful Freebox Révolution
Highest service bandwidth Numéricable LaBox
Best pay-TV / video-on-demand service Numéricable LaBox
Best online gaming Orange LiveBox Play, Box SFR
Best customer service Freebox Révolution, Box SFR
Least expensive Bouygues Bbox Sensation

 

Here, we are dealing with a highly-competitive market where there is encouragement for innovation. Most of the “boxes” featured here offer an integrated Blu-Ray player as well as pay-TV and out-of-the-box console gaming as far as entertainment is concerned.

They also are the hub of your home network, offering a router, VoIP analogue-telephony adaptor and network-attached storage, as well as being the start of a DLNA Home Media Network.

Send to Kindle