EP1905254A1 - Provision of data services over a mobile communications network - Google Patents

Provision of data services over a mobile communications network

Info

Publication number
EP1905254A1
EP1905254A1 EP20060755771 EP06755771A EP1905254A1 EP 1905254 A1 EP1905254 A1 EP 1905254A1 EP 20060755771 EP20060755771 EP 20060755771 EP 06755771 A EP06755771 A EP 06755771A EP 1905254 A1 EP1905254 A1 EP 1905254A1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
data
network
response
key
address
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
EP20060755771
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Inventor
Jeffrey Wilson
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Intellprop Ltd
Original Assignee
Intellprop Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GBGB0514138.7A priority Critical patent/GB0514138D0/en
Priority to GB0521092A priority patent/GB2431820A/en
Application filed by Intellprop Ltd filed Critical Intellprop Ltd
Priority to PCT/GB2006/002582 priority patent/WO2007007101A1/en
Publication of EP1905254A1 publication Critical patent/EP1905254A1/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • H04L12/1453Methods or systems for payment or settlement of the charges for data transmission involving significant interaction with the data transmission network
    • H04L12/146Methods or systems for payment or settlement of the charges for data transmission involving significant interaction with the data transmission network using digital cash
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/02Details
    • H04L12/14Metering, charging or billing arrangements specially adapted for data wireline or wireless communications
    • H04L12/1453Methods or systems for payment or settlement of the charges for data transmission involving significant interaction with the data transmission network
    • H04L12/1471Methods or systems for payment or settlement of the charges for data transmission involving significant interaction with the data transmission network splitting of costs
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/14Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications for session management
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/12Messaging; Mailboxes; Announcements

Abstract

This invention concerns a method and system for communicating from a mobile device (telephone) to a data source on a data network including the use of a data key to permit the data source to send a response.

Description

PROVISION OF DATA SERVICES OVER A MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK

Field of the invention

This invention relates to the provision of data services over a mobile communications network and in particular to a system and method for enabling this. 10

Background to the invention

The email system is now well established for sending messages between computers. It operates by a sender transmitting an email to a destination email 1.5 address. A setting in the sender's mail system provides an address of a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server at the sender's Internet Service Provider (ISP), to which the email is pushed immediately.

When the SMTP server receives the email it looks up the domain of the 20 destination email address in a database from which it retrieves the domain name for a mail server responsible for the destination address. Some organisations will have more than one mail server listed in the database. For example, one server may be on the destination organisation's own site whilst a back up is provided at the organisation's ISP. 25

Using the retrieved domain name data, the email is then delivered to the highest priority mail server (usually one at an organisation's site). Delivery uses normal Internet addressing techniques whereby the domain name of the mail server is looked up in the Internet domain name server to obtain an IP address for routing 30 the message. The originating SMTP server then pushes the email straight to the destination mail server. From here the message is normally pushed immediately to the recipient's computer.

Domestic users will not normally have their own mail servers but instead rely on 35 the ISP's own servers from which they can retrieve mail when they log on to their ISPs. If the destination mail server is temporarily unavailable the ISP's mail server can receive and store the email message, until it is later retrieved by the organisation's mail server using a pull or polling technique.

Messaging systems such as SMS in mobile telephone networks operate differently to emails in that they pass directly to a recipient's phone number, without any higher level domain type address being involved. They may also be stored in the network when a recipient's phone is not available. Other services such as voice, multi-media message services, and video connections can also be provided. Voice and text are the most commonly used at present.

Voice calls are made by dialling nationally or internationally recognised numbers. Once dialled, a series of technical and commercial agreements between the various networks over which the call has to be transmitted ensure that it is delivered to the relevant dialled number and that any associated accounting rate payments are made between the networks. In some cases a call can be delivered as a voice-over Internet protocol (VOIP) call. It has for some time been possible to dial direct from mobile communication networks to fixed line networks. Once this happens, a fixed line network can be used to terminate a voice call. Voice calls are usually paid for by the sender and are free to the recipient.

The same is not true for text services. Text services normally require the sender to make a payment. Any response made by the recipient generates further payment. This can be part of a user's monthly charge or can be on a pay-as-you- go basis.

Recently, a technique referred to as "Virtual Mobile" has been introduced. European patent no. EP-A-1145577 shows a system in which connection is made via a data network to hosts or applications within a mobile network. It is possible to send messages to them or receive messages from them. Examples include banking applications or football results notification services. In most cases these applications are semi-automated.

In EP1584207 a text message generated in a mobile network is delivered to a data network in a telecommunication system (a computer). Essentially, the computer has associated with it in the mobile communications network a mobile number which we call a Virtual Mobile number. This is the number the sender dials. The network at an email gateway converts the virtual mobile number to a corresponding email address and delivers a message (usually text) to that email address. The recipient computer in such a situation is therefore acting as a virtual mobile.

Currently, data services are available over mobile networks using the general packet radio service (GPRS). This provides mobile phones with web client software to access web services. This service is somewhat limited and requires any person providing data via GPRS to mobile phones to provide suitably formatted web pages for display on these phones.

We have appreciated that it would be desirable for people who wish to provide data services (publishers) to the users of mobile networks from computers connected to the Internet to arrange for those computers to act as virtual mobiles. However, a bar to encouraging people to do this is that a billing relationship with a mobile operator must be established by the virtual mobile computer. Thus, unlike Internet users, the publishers are faced with charges for providing data to mobiles. The publishers can still send emails free of charge but cannot get text messages and other forms of message all the way back to a mobile which initially sent an enquiry unless they are prepared to accept a charge from the network for sending the message. The problem is particularly difficult with text messages, which are one way communications, but can also arise with other messages such as voice and multimedia.

Summary of the invention

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a mobile network which makes available a range of virtual mobile (VM) numbers within its own number ranges which can be issued to users' computers connected to the Internet, and via a data connection to the mobile network. Preferably a VM number is supplied to a computer user by his Internet connection (such as broadband ADSL or cable) provider. The computer is connected via an IP connection to the Internet using an IP address which is preferably fixed. The computer user publishes information to mobile communication devices by responding to requests from devices on the mobile network which are directed by the network to the VM number. The computer user's responses are free of charge to him providing he makes only one or a predetermined number of responses per enquiry.

Preferably, the computer user is enabled to make a response by means of a data key generated with each message received from the mobile network, the data key is stored at an email gateway, along with the identity of the email domain to which the query was sent, and the sender's phone number. When a reply is generated by the computer user, the data key then permits the reply to be transmitted to the original sender. Thus, the computer user does not need to pay for a reply, which he might be required to do with some forms of data service.

Preferably, the system is able to cope with information in either voice or text form, or a combination, or indeed in any other form.

Preferably the computer user has software loaded in his computer which enables automated responses to be sent to devices on the mobile network, providing the necessary data keys are present in the network.

Preferably the data key generated only permits the computer user to send a response to the original sender's address, and to no other address.

In accordance with the first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for sending a communication from a mobile communication device connected to a mobile communications network to a data source which has allocated to it an address on the mobile communications network, and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device, comprising the steps of; retrieving an address of the data source on the data network corresponding to its address on the mobile communications network, generating and storing a data key to permit the data source to send a response to the mobile communication device, and transmitting the communication to the data source, with data relating to the data key. Also in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for sending a communication from a mobile communication device on a mobile communications network to a data source which has allocated to it an address on the mobile communications network and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device comprising means for retrieving an address of the data source on the data network corresponding to its address on the mobile communication network; means for generating and storing a data key to permit the data source to send a response to the mobile communication device; and means for transmitting the communication to the data source with data relating to the data key.

In accordance with the second aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for providing data services over a mobile communications network having a plurality of mobile communication devices connected to it comprising a gateway between the mobile communications network and a data network; at least one data source coupled to the data network and having assigned to it an address on the mobile network and an address on the data network; a storage means storing a look up table of addresses for each data source on the data network and its corresponding address on the mobile communications network; means for receiving a communication from a mobile communication device addressed to an address on the mobile communications network corresponding to a data source on the data network; means for retrieving the address on the data network of the thus addressed data source from the storage means; means for generating and storing a data key to permit at least one response to be sent by the data source to the sender of a received communication; and means for sending the communication to the data source with data relating to the data key.

In accordance with the third aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for providing data services from data sources on a data network to mobile communication devices on a mobile communication network comprising the steps of sending a communication from a mobile communication device to the data source via a gateway coupling the two networks, sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device, and charging an account associated with the mobile communication device for the communication and the response. Brief description of the drawings

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described in detail by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 shows the equipment required to send a text message to a computer which has been assigned a virtual mobile number;

Figure 2 shows the equipment required to send and terminate a voice call at a computer which has been assigned a virtual mobile number; Figure 3 shows the equipment for sending a multi-media message (MMS) to a computer which has been assigned a virtual mobile number;

Figure 4 shows additional detail of the equipment required to send a text message (SMS) to a computer which has been assigned a virtual mobile number;

Figure 5 is a schematic block diagram of an embodiment of the email gateway of figure 4.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments

Figure 1 shows schematically how an SMS message is sent to a virtual mobile number. A subscriber 2 is shown in a network offering virtual mobile numbers, and also a subscriber 4 in another network. Each has a mobile communication device, such as a mobile phone, operating for example in GSM networks, or other networks which permit SMS messaging. When a subscriber sends a text message from his mobile communication device, this is transmitted to a mobile switching centre (MSC) 6 in his home network. This interprets the message as an SMS message and sends it to an SMS centre 8 in his home network which detects via a home location register (HLR) that the number to which the message has been sent is a virtual mobile number and therefore routes the text message to virtual mobile equipment 10 provided in the network. If the message is generated in another network then it is routed via a Short Message Switching

Centre (SMSC) 8 directly to virtual mobile equipment 10 in the network which has allocated the destination virtual mobile number.

An optional SMS router 12 is also shown in figure 1. This may be provided in a network and will send text messages received direct to the virtual mobile equipment 10 in the destination network of the virtual mobile number, without using the SMSC.

The virtual mobile (VM) equipment 10 in figure 1 appears to the SMS router 12 or SMSC 8 to act as a terminating MSCΛ/LR (where VLR is a visitor location register). The VM equipment 10 behaves to the host network as a virtual MSCΛ/LR in respect of mobile terminated messages. In fact, however, it receives a mobile terminated message and then delivers it to its destination, typically a Host or Application within the network. These are usually accessed from the VM equipment across a data network such as an IP network and so the VM equipment or an attached gateway must also provide address translation between the different transport-media types. In systems of the type described in EP1584207 the VM equipment also advantageously provides the Home Location Register (HLR) function for the VM numbers. In other implementations, the HLR function is external to the VM equipment and is usually part of the HLR infrastructure of the network.

The virtual mobile equipment 10 routes the received message (which is addressed to a VM number) to an SMS interface gateway 12 which can route it to other hosts, voting engines etc., or, to an email gateway 14. When the email gateway receives a message it looks up a stored email destination from the virtual mobile number received and is able to send the text message via the Internet 16 to a computer, which is associated with a subscription to the relevant virtual mobile number, by using its respective email address. Virtual mobile numbers and their corresponding email addresses are stored in a look up table. Email is the preferred communication format between the gateway and the VM computer but other formats such at HTTP may be used.

Also associated with the email gateway 14 is a key store 20 which is used to store a data record associated with a received message from the mobile network. The purpose of this is to enable the computer 18 to send a response to a received message to the sender. This will be described subsequently in more detail. However, in its most straightforward implementation, the purpose of the key store 20 is to store a data record which will permit the computer 18 to send one response to the sender of a received message. Thus, the data record should be associated with the original text message from the mobile network and its sender. A time limit may be applied to this data record during which a reply is permitted but after expiry of which, no reply is permitted.

The key store 20 stores data records for each received message and each data record includes data identifying the sender and data identifying the recipient. This stored data is indexed by a data key. The data key or data identifying the data key is included with the communication sent on to the VM computer by the email gateway.

When a response is received from the VM computer, it includes the data key or data identifying the data key. The data key is then used as an index into the key store 20 to retrieve the data record. This retrieved data record can then be used, to provide the data identifying the original sender so that the response can be transmitted on to the sender via the mobile network.

In practice, there will be many messages sent from users of mobile devices to VM computers and many responses sent back. In order to reduce the number of individual record addresses in the key store 20, more than one data record can be indexed at each address. For example, four data records could be stored at each address. Each address is accessed by a data key to which a hashing algorithm has been applied. Hashing algorithms can produce the same result for more than, one set of input data and therefore are capable of producing the same address for more than one input data key. In order to determine which of the data records accessed by a hashed data key is intended to be retrieved, each data record also includes its respective data key. The data key for a response from a VM computer is compared with the stored data key in each data record indexed by the hashed data key, in turn until a match is found. The data record with the matching data key is then retrieved and used as described above.

If the full data key is not included with a response from a VM computer then it is derived either algorithmically or from a look up table at the email gateway.

Using such an arrangement, permits the computer 18 to run a content service for personal publishing purposes without having to pay for providing content. The arrangement thereby brings some of the advantages of the Internet to mobile users, who may interrogate the content and receive responses. Preferably, the computer 18 logs incoming messages so that the content service can be monitored and improved as necessary. The system clearly works best when the computer 18 is permanently switched on.

Figure 2 shows an embodiment which provides the termination of a voice call to a virtual number. This shows a received voice call being routed by a Gateway Mobile Switching Centre (GMSC) 22. The GMSC queries virtual mobile numbers in a virtual mobile home location register 24 with the received virtual mobile destination number, and receives routing information for directing the call to voice call terminating equipment 26 which records a message. A file including the recorded message is then passed to a voice interface gateway 28 which converts the virtual mobile number to the respective email address and sends a voice file over the Internet 16 to the email address of the relevant virtual mobile computer 18. The virtual mobile computer 18 can send a response message. The voice interface gateway 28 is provided with a corresponding key store 20 to permit a single response to be sent free of charge. Preferably the key store 20 is shared by a number of interface gateways each handling different message formats, so that a voice message can, for example be replied to by text. The response may therefore be a text message or it may be another voice message recorded by the user of the virtual mobile computer 18 and then sent as a voice file. A voice file may be played to a recipient during an outdialled voice call, or preferably delivered to the voice mail box of the recipient.

Figure 3 shows a similar arrangement for sending a multi-media message (MMS). This message passes through a multi-media message centre (MMSC) 30 and associates the message with a virtual mobile number from the virtual mobile number HLR 32. The HLR 32 provides routing information for an SMS alert known as an MMS push or a WAP push. This push message is routed to an MMS interface gateway 34. This gateway uses information in the WAP push to retrieve the. message from the MMSC 30 and converts it to a format suitable for transmission to its destination, such as email format. It is then sent via the Internet 16 to a virtual mobile computer 18 associated with the respective virtual mobile number. Another form of data sent to a computer associated with a virtual mobile number may be a voice call between a mobile caller and a computer. This will be routed via the necessary voice-over Internet protocol (VOIP) interface. Such a call can be bidirectional and may be originated in either direction. Another type of call which may be made is an audio visual call of the type which is permitted by 3G mobile communication devices. An audio visual call directed to a virtual mobile computer is similarly transcoded to a format suitable for transmission over the Internet. The call is then bidirectional.

It will be appreciated that using the arrangements described above within a network enables computers connected to the Internet to be assigned virtual mobile numbers.. In these situations, computers are preferably connected via an always-on IP connection to the Internet using a fixed IP address. This data connection is then associated with a virtual mobile number and the relevant gateway has details of the connections. Communications may be sent to publishers from a gateway using ah email address. They may also be sent using a web address or other addressing formats.

Using such a system enables a computer user or publisher who operates a virtual mobile computer to send information in response to requests from mobile phone users. Although the publisher will have some set up costs associated with subscribing to a virtual mobile number, publishers will be encouraged to use virtual mobile computers as a means of providing data to mobile communication device users due to the convenience of using their home computers and existing Internet connections. However, the system works most effectively and encourages publishers to make information available if there is no per message cost for sending replies to enquiries. Preferably, one reply per enquiry is permitted, although subscription-type services permitting a number of replies to be sent can also be used.

The way in which free replies are generated has been discussed above in relation to figure 1. It is now shown in more detail with reference to figure 4. This shows an SMS router 13 which receives an SMS message which originated at a mobile communication device such as a mobile phone. This message has associated with it caller id information (CLI), and this is required in order to enable a reply to be generated to the sender. The CLI data can be sent to the virtual mobile computer but this is not necessary. The SMS router 13 directs the message to an SMS interface gateway 12 which determines that the destination number is a virtual mobile number associated with a VM computer. The SMS interface gateway 12 therefore directs the text message to an email gateway 14. This email gateway 14 has associated with it a look up table or store 40 of virtual mobile numbers and corresponding email addresses. The gateway retrieves from this store 40 the corresponding destination email address.

The email gateway 14 also generates a data record in response to receipt of the SMS message. This data record may be generated elsewhere in the system. This data record associates the sender and destination address and the data record is stored in a store 42 and is indexed by a data key as discussed above. Preferably the data record or the data key includes a time stamp related to the time at which it was generated. The message is then sent to the destination virtual mobile computer via a data network preferably by email. Included with the message are at least part of the data key or at least information to enable the full key to be retrieved when a response is received at the email gateway from the virtual mobile computer.

When a response is sent from the virtual mobile computer to the sender of a received message, the response includes data to enable the full key to be retrieved. This data is retrieved from the message at the email gateway 14 and enables the stored data record associated with the full key to be looked up in the store 42. The original sender's calling line identification data (CLI) can then be extracted from stored data. The email is converted to a text message and then sent to the number extracted from the CLI data. The stored data record entry for the key is then deleted.

In the event that no corresponding key can be found in the store or a key is found but it has expired, the message is not sent. The store 42 can store data records for a fixed period of time and then delete them, in which case no matching key would be found. The use of such an arrangement permits a virtual mobile computer to send responses without any charge being made to the virtual mobile computer and the publisher providing a service on the virtual mobile computer. This is possible because of the way in which these types of messages are charged. For a text message, a charge is made to the sender. If the destination number belongs to another network, part of that charge is a termination charge for the destination network which is charged back to the sending network. The purpose of the termination charge is to cover the cost of delivering a message over a radio interface to another mobile device. If there is no radio interface being used for delivery of a mobile terminated message, then the part of the message charge which would have paid for the mobile terminated delivery can be used to pay for something else. In the virtual mobile arrangement, an email service within the network is used to deliver the message. This, however, is essentially free and so the charge can be used to pay for a reply to the sender over the mobile network. This reply reaches the sender of the original message via a radio interface. Therefore a recipient running a bulletin board or information service running on a virtual mobile computer can provide information in the form of replies to queries originating from a mobile telephone network without being charged. He can stimulate as much traffic as he likes and the replies are free. Essentially, the sent message and reply pass over two radio links, as would a normal text message between mobile communication devices. The additional cost of an email is negligible and so the service can be provided for the cost of a normal message. It is, of course possible, to adapt the network to charge a higher tariff for messages sent to virtual mobile numbers.

Figure 5 shows a more detailed block diagram of an email gateway embodying the invention. In this, messages from mobiles are received by a message buffer 50. Each message is addressed to a virtual mobile number. An address retriever 52 accesses a virtual mobile to email look-up table 54 and provides an appropriate email address to an email compiler 56. A key generator 58 generates a data key unique to each received message and stores this in a key store 60. At least part of the key or data identifying the key is also is supplied to the email compiler 56. Once the email compiler 56 has received the email address 54 and the corresponding key it retrieves the associated message from the message buffer 50 and converts this into emailable form. At least part of the key or data identifying the key is included in the email; preferably in the from address field so that it is automatically replicated in an email reply. The key data is required to enable a response to be sent to the sender of the message. Once the email has been compiled, it is provided at an output port 62 to an email system, in which it is directed to its destination computer.

The messages will in most cases be some form of enquiry and the destination computer will either provide the ability for a user to intervene and manually input a response or it may provide an automated response. This response will be sent as an email back to the email gateway and will be received at an input port 64. This is coupled to an email buffer 63 which stores the email. Data identifying the key is extracted from each email by a key retriever 66. This uses the data to retrieve the respective data key from key store 60. A key validator 68 then determines whether or not the retrieved key is valid for a received email and if it is, provides an enable signal 70 to a message compiler 72. The message compiler then retrieves the email from the email buffer, converts it into an appropriate form to send to a mobile device and transmits it to that mobile device using the originally received calling line identification (CLI) data. The CLI data has been either included in the received email and/or stored with the key in the key store 60. The message is then sent to the destination mobile via the mobile network. Once the message has been sent, if the key is a single message key, it is subsequently erased from key store 60, thereby preventing further messages from being sent. If it is a multi-use key then it remains in the store and may be modified to indicate that it has been used to send a message.

The embodiment of figure 5 may use similar techniques to those discussed above in relation to figure 1 for storing data records and using data keys to access those records.

An example of a publishing service on a computer and manner in which it is accessed is now described. In this example, a user B runs a football results publishing service on his home computer. He has obtained a VM no. 07777123456; and a fixed IP address for his computer from his ISP, and has associated the email address footie@iohnsmith.demon.net with this number via a provisionary measure provided for example by the mobile network via SMS or web access. The relationship between this email address and the VM number are therefore stored in the VM to email table 54 of figure 5.

An application which automatically generates responses is run permanently on his computer so that replies to text queries to the email address associated with his VM number can be delivered to a mail server application and the response sent back by email.

In operation, the following steps take place:

• Subscriber A sends a text message to the VM number.

• By standard VM techniques the message arrives at the email gateway in the network (see figure 5).

• The email gateway generates a token such as a random thirty two bit token e.g. 1234ABCD as the data key which is stored in key store 60 and creates an email message in email compiler 56. In this embodiment, the

'from' address in the created email contains at least part of the data key or data identifying the key. The from address is selected so that replies will automatically include the key or data identifying the key.

• The email address footie@iohnsmith.demon.net is retrieved from the VM to email table 54. The email gateway in this embodiment stores in the key store 60 the sender's phone number, the recipient domain (johnsmith.demon.net), a representation of the key and a time stamp.

• The email will therefore have the following header:

To : footie@iohnsmith.demon.net From: 1234ABCD@publishinq.bignetwork.com

and the message content will be the same text as received in the original SMS.

• By normal email techniques the message is delivered to the destination computer's mail server. It is then picked up by the football application, and a reply generated. • The reply email has the following header:

To: 1234ABCD@publishing.bignetwork.com From : info@johnsmith.demon.net

and the text is as generated by the application.

• The message is received by the email gateway. The key store is interrogated by key retriever 66 and verifies that the domain johnsmith.demon.net is entitled to a reply to the sender's original number with this key at this time. A time limit may be imposed on the response, for example 24 hours. • An SMS message is constructed in message compiler 72 and sent to the original sender's number and the entry in the key store 60 is erased so that it cannot be reused.

• Optionally the sender's mobile number may be carried in the email and displayed to the recipient, but the reply message is not allowed to specify the mobile number. That is held in the database at the gateway and this ensures that in this embodiment only replies are free, not messages to arbitrary numbers.

Embodiments of the invention may operate with SMS text messages, multimedia messages, and network terminated voice messages. It is also envisaged that the modified embodiments of the invention could enable non network terminated voice messages to be terminated at an end user computer but still generate a key to allow a subsequent response to be sent free of charge.

An email sent to an end user computer can include pictures, video, or other data included as attachments to the email.

On the Internet huge amounts of content are available but access is difficult without search engines. It is therefore envisaged that certain computers which have assigned to them VM numbers can perform the role of search engines. The responses therefrom will comprise other virtual numbers where information on a requested topic can be found. It is also envisaged that an Internet search conducted on a WAP enabled mobile phone running over the GPRS system could return not only URLs but also VM numbers relating to a requested topic.

In a further embodiment of the invention, the principle of allowing a single response from a computer assigned a VM number could be extended to subscription type services and other forms of payment. Any scheme whereby the end user or publisher's sending costs are met without him having to have an account with the mobile network will satisfy the requirement. It is desirable but not essential to inform the publisher about the success or failure of the transmission.

It is possible to permit certain messages to enable more than one response from a virtual mobile computer. For example, a user of a football results service may also wish to receive half-time scores. Therefore, his original message would contain data which would be recognised by the email gateway to permit two return messages to be sent, one at half-time and one at full time. This would involve the generation of either two data keys for storage in key store 60 or a dual use key.

Some operators may choose to charge a premium for messages sent to VM numbers or may require a subscription to allow access to VM numbers and to receive a certain number of responses.

The most straightforward embodiment of the invention would be accessible to all phones, and would therefore be primarily a text based service. However, as higher end phones become more widespread, services directed only at these higher end phones can be provided. Embodiments of the invention are therefore intended to be used with data services in general, including text, voice, multimedia and other services.

It will therefore be appreciated, that using the embodiments of the invention discussed above, publishers of data can be encouraged to provide data services which are assigned VM numbers and which respond to enquiries generated on mobile communication devices. This will lead to a much more versatile information service being provided to mobiles since small low budget users as well as more sophisticated high budget users can publish data.

Any publisher wishing to use the service can be provided with shell software in which to build his data providing service and which will form the necessary responses to received messages. The shell software may include a mail server application to allow email to be pushed directly to the virtual mobile computer from the email gateway, thereby avoiding polling delays that are present in typical home-email environments.

The gateways between mobile networks and data networks in embodiments of this invention will usually be general purpose servers loaded with software to cause them to operate the system and methods described above. So, for example, the email gateway referred to in the specific embodiments described may be a general purpose server loaded with software to cause it to manage the communications and responses between users on a mobile network and VM computers on a data network.

Claims

Claims
1. A method for sending a communication from a mobile communication device connected to a mobile communications network to a data source, connected to a data network, which has allocated to it an address on the mobile communications network, and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device, comprising the steps of, retrieving an address of the data source on the data network corresponding to its address on the mobile communications network, generating and storing a data key to permit the data source to send a response to the mobile communication device, and transmitting the communication to the data source, with data relating to the data key.
2. A method according to claim 1 in which the data key associates the sender of the communication with the address of the data source.
3. A method according to claims 1 or 2 in which the data key includes a time stamp related to the time at which the key was generated.
4. A method according to any preceding claim including the step of deleting the data key from the store after a predetermined period of time.
5. A method according to any preceding claim including the step of generating a response to the communication at the data source, transmitting the response via the data network with the data relating to the data key to the mobile communications network, retrieving the data key, and transmitting the response to the mobile communication device on the mobile communications network in dependence on the retrieved data key.
6. A method according to claim 5 in which the step of transmitting the response includes the step of retrieving an address of the mobile communication device on the mobile communication network.
7. A method according to claim 6 in which the address of the mobile communication device comprises a part of the data key.
8. A method according to any preceding claim in which the data key permits a single response to be sent to the mobile communication device.
9. A method according to any of claims 1 to 7 in which the data key permits multiple responses to be sent to the mobile communication device.
10. A method according to claim 5 including the steps of determining whether or not the data key has expired and preventing the response from being sent if the data key has expired.
11. A method according to any preceding claim in which the communication and the response are SMS text messages.
12. A method according to any of claims 1 to 10 in which the communication and the response are in different message formats.
13. A method according to any preceding claim in which the data source is a computer linked to the Internet, and the address of the data source is an email address.
14. A system for sending a communication from a mobile communication device on a mobile communications network to a data source, connected to a data network, which has allocated to it an address on the mobile communications network and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device comprising means for retrieving an address of the data source on the data network corresponding to its address on the mobile communication network; means for generating and storing a data key to permit the data source to send a response to the mobile communication device; and means for transmitting the communication to the data source with data relating to the data key.
15. A system according to claim 14 in which the data key associates the sender of the communication with the address of the data source.
16. A system according to claims 14 and 15 in which the data key includes a time stamp related to the time at which the key was generated.
17. A system according to claims 14, 15 or 16 in which the data key is deleted from the store after a predetermined period of time.
18. A system according to any of claims 14 to 17 including means for generating a response to the communication at the data source, means for transmitting the response via the data network to the mobile communications network with the data relating to the data key, and means for transmitting the response to the mobile communication device on the mobile communications network in dependence on the retrieved data key.
19. A system according to claim 18 including means for retrieving an address of the mobile communication device on the mobile communication network.
20. A system according to claim 19 in which the address of the mobile communication device comprises a part of the data key.
21. A system according to any of claims 14 to 20 in which the data key permits a single response to be sent to the mobile communication device.
22. A system according to any of claims 14 to 20 in which the data key permits multiple responses to be sent to the mobile communication device.
23. A system according to claim 18 including means for determining whether or not the data key has expired and means for preventing the response from being sent to the mobile network if the key has expired.
24. A system according to any of claims 14 to 23 in which the communication and the response are SMS text messages.
25. A system according to any of claims 14.to 23 in which the communication and the response are in different message formats.
26. A system according to any of claims 14 to 23 in which the data source is a computer linked to the Internet and the address of the data source is an email address.
27. A system for providing data services over a mobile communications network having a plurality of mobile communication devices connected to it comprising a gateway between the mobile communications network and a data network; at least one data source coupled to the data network and having assigned to it an address on the mobile network and an address on the data network; a storage means storing a look up table of addresses for each data source on the data network and its corresponding address on the mobile communications network. means for receiving a communication from a mobile communication device addressed to an address on the mobile communications network corresponding to a data source on the data network; means for retrieving the address on the data network of the thus addressed data source from the storage means; means for generating and storing a data key to permit at least one response to be sent by the data source to the sender of a received communication; and means for sending the communication to the data source with data relating to the data key.
28. A system according to claim 27 including means for receiving a response from the data source with the data relating to the data key, means for retrieving the stored data key, and means for transmitting the response to the mobile communication device in dependence on the retrieved data key.
29. A method for providing data services from data sources on a data network to mobile communication devices on a mobile communication network comprising the steps of sending a communication from a mobile communication device to the data source via a gateway coupling the two networks, sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device, and charging an account associated with the mobile communication device for the communication and the response.
30. A computer program comprising instructions to cause a computer when loaded with the program to perform the method of any of claims 1 to 13.
31. A method for sending a communication from a mobile communication device connected to a mobile communications network to a data source, connected to a data network, which has allocated to it an address of a mobile communications network, and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device substantially as herein described.
32. A system for sending a communication from a mobile communications device on a mobile communications network to a data source, connected to a data network, which has allocated to it an address on the mobile communications network and for sending a response from the data source to the mobile communication device substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
EP20060755771 2005-07-12 2006-07-12 Provision of data services over a mobile communications network Withdrawn EP1905254A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GBGB0514138.7A GB0514138D0 (en) 2005-07-12 2005-07-12 Telecommunications services apparatus and method
GB0521092A GB2431820A (en) 2005-07-12 2005-10-17 Provision of data services over a mobile network
PCT/GB2006/002582 WO2007007101A1 (en) 2005-07-12 2006-07-12 Provision of data services over a mobile communications network

Publications (1)

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EP1905254A1 true EP1905254A1 (en) 2008-04-02

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EP20060755771 Withdrawn EP1905254A1 (en) 2005-07-12 2006-07-12 Provision of data services over a mobile communications network

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WO (1) WO2007007101A1 (en)

Family Cites Families (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
AU8146798A (en) * 1997-06-17 1999-01-04 Telecom Wireless Solutions, Inc. System and process for allowing wireless messaging
FI108388B (en) * 1997-09-01 2002-01-15 Nokia Corp Sõhk ÷ postal traffic matkaviestinjõrjestelmõssõ
GB2386799B (en) * 2001-06-25 2004-06-23 Empower Interactive Group Ltd Message transmission system and method

Non-Patent Citations (1)

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Title
See references of WO2007007101A1 *

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