GB2356521A - Multimedia network has protocol conversion - Google Patents

Multimedia network has protocol conversion Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2356521A
GB2356521A GB9916873A GB9916873A GB2356521A GB 2356521 A GB2356521 A GB 2356521A GB 9916873 A GB9916873 A GB 9916873A GB 9916873 A GB9916873 A GB 9916873A GB 2356521 A GB2356521 A GB 2356521A
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Prior art keywords
interface device
interface
means
communication
plurality
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GB9916873D0 (en
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Yat Sing Philip Poon
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Yat Sing Philip Poon
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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1013Network architectures, gateways, control or user entities
    • H04L65/102Gateways
    • H04L65/1023Media gateways
    • H04L65/1026Media gateways at the edge
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L29/00Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00
    • H04L29/02Communication control; Communication processing
    • H04L29/06Communication control; Communication processing characterised by a protocol
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1013Network architectures, gateways, control or user entities
    • H04L65/102Gateways
    • H04L65/1033Signalling gateways
    • H04L65/1036Signalling gateways at the edge
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L29/00Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00
    • H04L29/02Communication control; Communication processing
    • H04L29/06Communication control; Communication processing characterised by a protocol
    • H04L29/0602Protocols characterised by their application
    • H04L29/06027Protocols for multimedia communication

Abstract

A multimedia Service Provider, MSP, 1 is connected to a plurality of services, for example a TV station, Telephone company 13, Internet 15 or other MSP. End user devices 7, such as a computer, telephone or facsimile, are connected to the MSP 1 via an interface device 2. The interface device 2 has at least one interface module (8) for interfacing with an MSP via an external communication means 3, and at least one interface module (9) for interfacing with an user device 7 via an internal communication means 4. The system enables multimedia services to be provided between MSPs and end users via any communication means, using any communication protocol. The system allows MSPs and interface devices 2 to be interconnected in a flexible manner, thereby allowing multimedia communication between any two users, regardless of the differences in network systems, formats or transmission protocol.

Description

2356521

Description

A Multimedia Network System Over Any Communication Means 1. This Invention relates to a network system which provides multimedia services over a connection, whereas the connection may be served by any communication means, for example, as classified as digital and analogue; wireless and cable; satellite; and the like.

Background

2. 1 Modem life would inevitably include a variety of communication means and facilities, for example, internet, cable, wireless and satellite transmission, fax, TV(television), Hi-Fi(audio equipment), tape recorder, telephone, and computer.

2.2.At present, these communication means and facilities are mostly non compatible with each other. The basic difficulty is that they use different networks, formats or transmission protocols. For example, analogue telephones cannot use digital lines. Even facilities and technology developed for ISDN(Integrated Service Digital Network) are not necessarily compatible with each other. For example, European ISDN and American ISDN are non compatible. The same problems also apply to wireless communication means 2 and facilities, for example, GSM(Global System for Mobile communications) and CDMA(Code-Division Multiple Access) are also non-compatible.

2.3.1t is almost unlikely that the whole world may come together to agree to a common network, format and transmission protocol. Even if it does, it still takes extremely substantial efforts to change everything to follow the same network, format and protocol both in terms of capital and time. Some people or countries simply cannot afford it.

2A.Moreover, it is obvious that the industry of information technology will keep on evolving. Even the fibre-optic line might become obsolete one day. The existing formats and protocols might have to be modified in due course. So the changing and matching process should be continuing.

2.5.1t is a pity that so much resources and efforts have been spent on trying to match different facilities networks and protocols with one another, but it still remains a matter of hit-and-miss.

2.6. 1. So what the world really needs is the development of a communication means or system ("Multimedia Network System") to pull everything together regardless of the differences in network systems, formats, transmission protocols, and the like.

2.6.2. Under this ideal, which is the subject matter of this Invention, any communication means can serve any connection or group of connections.

Communication facilities such as TV sets, fax machines, computers, telephones may also line up together to communicate with each other internally as well as and simultaneously with the outside world through the same connection. For example, one may play back a video tape on an analogue VCR(Video Cassette Recorder), listen to the voice thereof by 3 picking up the telephone handset, and watch the image thereof through a computer or a digital or analogue TV set. Furthermore, the voice and image may simultaneously be transmitted via analogue telephone line to another person abroad who receives through a cellular (wireless) telephone and watches by an analogue TV set while storing the data in a computer at the same time.

2.7.As the most commonly used communication line at present is analogue telephone line, it is crucial for the Multimedia Network System("MN System") to be able to accommodate analogue lines as well as digital lines. For similar reason, the MN System should be able to serve most, if not all, communication facilities now in use to save time and costs.

2.8.For the purpose of discussion in the present Description:

'Cany Communication Means" shall include direct or indirect communication means and lines of various types such as analogue line, digital line, cable, wireless, satellite, and the like.

"Connection" shall, if the context allows, include a connection or a particular group of connections.

2.9.Brief Description of Drawings:

Figure I shows how the multimedia service provider provides services to the user via any Communication Means and the Smart Box.

Figu&r 2 shows how the Smart Box may process the data with the appropriate interfaces.

Figure 2 shows how the Smart Box may be served by multi-lines and serve multi-facilities.

4 Fig= 2 shows how multi-lines may serve multi-Smart Boxes.

Fig= 3 shows how a non-MSP-user may make an international telephone call to an MSP-user via indirect connections when that MSP-user goes abroad.

Figure 4 shows how two MSP-users in different states may communicate with each other.

Description of the Related Art

3. 1. 1. In UK Patent No. GB2326306A, a solution is worked out to provide digital audio and visual communication between terminals of different networks with different transmission protocols. In that, an interface called gateway is attached to each network to translate or transform different protocols to a common packet network, such as ATM(Asynchronous Transfer Mode) network.

3.1.2. However, the method is certainly cost-prohibitive. The ATM network in Hong Kong now serving about 100,000 users already costs more than US$1.2 billion to build up.

3.1.3. The packet network should be too expansive for a usual home user. So people at large cannot be benefited.

3.1.4. On the other hand, the lines for a packet network have to be laid afresh. It cannot make use of the conventional telephone lines which are readily available.

3.1.5. The method only shows 2 restricted modes of communication: (a) between a telephone and a computer, and (b) between computer and computer.

3.1.6. It also requires extra costs to set up a gateway to each of the service provider and user.

3.2. 1. In UK Patent No. GB2326794A, a solution is suggested for simultaneously supporting audio and data communication using ISDN(Integrated Services Digital Network).

3.2.2. Apart from the problems similar in nature to paragraphs 3.1.2 to 3. 1.5 above, this method also requires users to spend additional expenditure to install digital telephone sets.

3.3. 1. Another slightly advanced solution is suggested in European Patent No.

EP0789470A2. By adding a Simultaneous Voice and Data(SVD) modem to a conventional telephone network, both telephone and computer(i.e.

voice and data) can be served by a single telephone line simultaneously.

3.3.2. This method does have the advantage of making use of commonly existing telephone lines. However, it shows only 2 restricted modes of communication:

(a) between telephone and telephone; and (b) between computer and computer.

3.3.3. But it is particularly noted that this method does not allow communication even between a telephone and a computer. It hardly serves the multimedia purposes. The underlying technical problem of this method lies with the SVD modem which, by its nature of design, only allows communication 6 between data and data, or voice and voice. A communication between a telephone and a computer is therefore not allowed.

3.3.4. It is also not shown in the method that more than I telephone lines may be linked up together to increase the available bandwidth for the user.

3.3.5. The SVD modem is designed to work over a voice(analogue) network only The method therefore cannot support the change to a digital or wireless network system in future.

3.3.6. The method also requires the SVD modem be installed to each side of the user and service provider. So it is comparatively a bit more expensive for the system to work.

The Invention 4. I.The Invention basically consists of 3 components:

(a) A multimedia service provider("MSP")(1).

(b) A Smart Box(2) installed at the user(I 9) side.

(c) Any Communication Means(3) linking up the user(19) and the MSP 4.2.Figure I shows how the 3 components may work together.

4.3.The MSP(l) acts as a switching centre and provides multimedia services to users from various sources of services(6), for example, TV station, telephone company(13), and intemet(15).

4ABy the use of the appropriate interfaces(9), the Smart Box(2) lines up various internal facilities(7) such as TV set, fax machine, computer, telephone. It also gives priority of services to various designated facilities by using appropriate 7 network protocol, for example, ATM. So these facilities may communicate with each other internally, whereas they may simultaneously communicate with the outside world via the same external connection(3).

4.5. Communication between the MSP(I) and the user(l 9) may be done through any Communication Means(3), by using the appropriate interfaces(8) as well.

4.6.The Multimedia Service ProvideE(MSP) 4.6. 1. Fig= I also shows that by the use of a high-speed backbone, the MSP(l) may act as a switching centre to communicate with various sources of services(6) and provide services to its users(19) simultaneously. The components of the high-speed backbone may be various. At present, it generally consists of:

(a) a switch to perform the function of switching; (b) something like ATM to perform the function of giving priority to various types or classes of data; and (c) some means like gigabit ethernet to enhance the communication speed.

4.6.2. By connection to other service providers such as telephone company or network(13), internet service provider(ISP), other MSP, other networks, other offices of the user at anywhere, the MSP(I) may connect a user(l 9) to any part of the world for any services.

4.6.3. It shall be discussed later how this would work together with the other 2 components to form an NIN System over any Communication Means.

4.7.The Smart Bo 4.7.1.The Smart Box(2) is a data processing and switching device. Fi=e 2 8 shows the processing of the Smart Box(2). The external connection(3) connects the Smart Box(2) and the user(19) to the outside world. The internal connection(4) connects all internal facilities(7) of the user(19) together with the Smart Box(2). Note that both the externa](3) and intemal(4) connections may be any Communication Means.

4.7.2. It includes interface or interfaces(9) serving internal communications between the internal facilities(7), and interface or interfaces(8) for external connection serving external communications. The interface or interfaces may be separate or combined in one piece physically It may be installed in any combination and either inside or outside the Smart Box(2).

It may also be built-in any internal facility(7).

4.7.3. The Smart Box(2) may require other means and devices generally used in the industry to enhance the processing and switching function. The processing(l. 0) would at least include the following basic functions:

(a) translate various data to a common form; (b) switching; (c) give priority to various types or classes of data; (d) provide the highest speed possible to the processing; (e) line up with other smart boxes; and (f) deal with connections with multiple lines, externally or internally.

4.7.4. Eigurta shows more than I line may be connected to the externa](3) and or intemal(4) connections of a Smart Box(2).

4.7.5. Figure 2c shows more than I line may be connected to the external(3) and or intemal(4) connections of a group of lined up Smart Boxes(2).

4.8. Any Communication Means 9 4.8. 1. By using the appropriate interface or interfaces(8,9) for the Smart Box(2), the MSP(l) and the user(19) may communicate via any Communication Means.

4.8.2. Fig=s 2b and 2c also show the Smart Box(2) or series of Smart Boxes(2) may be served by any Communication Means. It is shown in Fig= 2b that, the Smart Box(2) may be connected to any type or types and any number of Communication Means simultaneously by using the appropriate interfaces(8). In the example given, the Smart Box(2) is connected to 1 analogue line and I digital line from PSTN(Public Switching Telephone Network) and ISDN respectively to enlarge the communication power.

4.8.3. This would enable the user(19) to obtain services from various MSP or providers of any other services simultaneously.

4.8.4. This would also enable the MSP(l) to provide multimedia services and broadband services without having to lay its own cables. It may simply use whatever lines immediately available at the address of the user(19).

Unlike conventional telephone lines, it is noted that digital lines are not always available everywhere, even if the user(19) may afford to pay the expensive fees therefor.

lh 4.8.5. If the bandwidth served by one line is not adequate, it is open for the user(19) to enlarge the serving bandwidth by lining up more than I lines together at the same connection(so EigurOb).

4.8.6. If the number of lines of one particular network available at an address is exhausted, the user may also subscribe the lines of other networks. It is noted that, the Invention allows the user(19) to use different types of networks simultaneously at the same connection, for example, cable, wireless, digital, analogue or otherwise. So multimedia and broadband services become more readily available to everybody in the world.

4.9.The Multimedia Network System("MN Sysjt-, 4.9.1. While the MSP(l) and the user(19) may communicate via direct lines as usual, it is crucial that the MN System also allows indirect communication via, for example, the internet(I 5), any other MSP, networks and connections(see Fig= 3).

4.9.2. By repeating the same process of indirect communication, a user(19) would be able to stretch his arm indefinitely to reach any connection in the world, provided access is allowed.

Some Problems and Solutions for the Invention 5.1.1. An inevitable problem the Invention has to solve is that when a user's(19) telephone line has been occupied for communication with the MSP(l), would the outsider be able to ring the user( 19) by dialing his telephone number? 5.1.2. The answer is in the affirmative. As shown in Figure 1, the outsider's call will be connected to the MSP(l) instead of the user(19) directly. The MSP(l) will then recognize and re-direct the call to the designated user(I 9) via the existing communication means with that particular user(19).

5.1.3. It is noted that this solution is available irrespective of the differences in lines used by the caller and the user(I 9), for example, cable and wireless, digital and analogue.

5.2. 1. Another problem the Invention has to address is that the more indirect communications involved, the more delay in the transmission process. 5 5.2.2. A simple reply to this is that the Invention does give a new alternative to the user(I 9). He could judge whether the transmission time taken is acceptable to him, or he could use other means instead.

5.2.3. The problem may also be addressed by reducing or cutting short the indirect links by linking up as many communication hubs as possible, such as various service providers. When the population of users(19) becomes big enough, MSP(l) would be willing to invest in the shortening process to attract users.

5.3.The third problem of this Invention is that it takes extra costs to provide the interfaces(8,9). However, the cost would seem minimal taking account of the advantages this Invention brings, and in comparison with the costs for other means. When the population of users(19) become bigger and bigger, manufacturers would be willing to provide internal facilities(7) embodying the appropriate built-in interfaces(8).

5A.The fourth problem is that the services receivable by or data transmitted for the user(19) has to depend on the bandwidth available to him. If the bandwidth is not broad enough, the remedy is that more than one line may be lined up together to enlarge the bandwidth(see paragraph 4.8.5 and 4.8.6 above).

5.5.It is self-evident that the Invention would best benefit users(19) who pay fixed charges for telephone lines. For example, users( 19) in Hong Kong pay fixed 12 charges per month. They may keep their connection with the MSP(l) 24-hour online. For users(19) who pay on time basis, they may use the MSP services upon dial-on-demand basis. The function may be embodied in the Smart Box.

When the user(19) is not online, the MSP(l) may store message or any other type of data for the user(19) in a mail box for later transinission.

5.6.After all, the Invention does offer a readily available network for immediate use by the world. When the analogue lines are gradually replaced by broadband cables(being fibre-optical cables at present), and the networks, f6rmats and transmission protocols become more and more unified, the delay in transmission process and the number of interfaces required will be substantially reduced.

Some Advantages of the Invention 6. I.It is noted that this Invention would enhance the said replacement and unifying process at minimal costs. In that, this Invention enables the NIN System to work on all existing communication means by just adding the said Smart Boxes(2) and appropriate interfaces(8,9).

6.2.The MSP(l) and the community will therefore be left with more resources and time to tackle the replacement and unifying process. Capital investments on infrastructures for cables and networks, and expenditure in internal facilities may thus be used in a more economical way.

6.3.Both the potential MSP and the community may embark on the multimedia services without having to wait and see the progress of the unifying process.

Neither do the MSP(l) have to lay their own cables nor to make the decisive choice of which network, format and protocol they should pick up.

13 6.4.1n the past, once the decision was made and carried out, it would be most difficult to change any more, as too many things have to be changed in an extremely short period including the users' internal facilities(7) as well as the lines. This Invention would allow the change be done gradually by just changing the appropriate interfaces(8,9) from time to time.

6.5.As discussed in paragraph 2.4 above, it is anticipated that all communication means and facilities in terms of networks, formats, protocols and the like will keep on changing. With the Invention, people shall be in a better position to combat the adverse effect of the hit-and-miss situation.

6.6.By allowing comparatively small-scaled companies to enter the industry as MSP, the Invention encourages competition to achieve low costs and free choices for the users.

6.7. The role played by conventional telephone companies(I 3) might have drastic change after this Invention. At present, telephone companies(13) have fiLlI control over both the communication means(cable or wireless), and the various forms of value-added services such as telephone conference and call forwarding. After this Invention, the said value-added services will be provided by the MSP(1) instead of the telephone companies(13), because, as discussed in paragraphs 5. 1. 1 to 5.1.3, the telephone call will be transmitted to the MSP(1) instead of to the user(19). In that scenario, the telephone companies(l 3) could only serve the user(I 9) as provider of the communication means for connection between the MSP(l) and user(19). So increased competitors in providing the said value-added services would encourage development of new services and achieve low charges and free choices for users(19).

Further Embodiment of the Invention 14 7. 1. The Invention may be further applied to benefit the MSP, users and the public at large. Some examples are given below.

Low costs International Phone Call 7.2.1. As elaborated in paragraph 5. 1.1 to 5.1.3, a local outsider may ring the MSP-user(19) by any communication means by simply dialing the user's(19) telephone number. The data will be transmitted to the MSP(l) instead of the user's(19) physical address. The MSP(l) would recognize and re-direct the call to the user's latest position. In the example given in Figurel a non-MSP-user(14) in the United States of America("USA") wishes to make a telephone call to an MSP-user in the United Kingdom("UK"). He may connect himself to the MSP(l) in UK by any communication means, for example, through the internet(l 5). Then he has to make a request to be connected to the user. The user may be identified by any preset specific name or number. The MSP(l) in UK would then recognize and re-direct the call to the user(19) through the local network in UK. So the said caller(14) only has to pay the fees for local connection to the internet(I 5), instead of the more expensive fees for the usual long distance phone call. Even if the user in UK goes abroad, for example, to Hong Kong, the MSP in UK(l) may re-direct the call to the user(l 9) in Hong Kong through any communication means(5,15), provided the user(19) gave the instruction beforehand. So the user(19) may communicate via the MSP(l) in UK even if he is in the Space. The examples in Figure 3 shows that the user(19) brings his Smart Box(2) from LJK to Hong Kong and he chooses to connect the Smart Box(2) to an MSP(l) in Hong Kong, and an Internet Service Provider(17) in Hong Kong for external connection(3).

7.2.2. The process of making the request at the MSP(l) may be modified in any way depending on the choice of the parties involved. For example, the MSP(l) may provide specific software to be downloaded by any intended caller to enhance the calling process.

7.2.3. When both parties of the call are MSP-users(I 9A, 1913), the process may be modified even further. In the preceding example, the caller has to communicate through a computer at home. In Fig= 4, the caller, user A(19A) in USA may initiate the call by making a request for telephone call at his MSP in USA(IA) through the existing communication line. The request can be indicated in any way, for example, by the act ofjust picking up the telephone handset at home. He would then dial the usual telephone number or any preset name of the user B(I 913) in UK. The MSP in USA(l A) will then connect the caller to the MSP in UK(l B) via any Communication Means(5), for example, through the intemet(15) or any specific connection, direct or indirect, as pre-arranged with the MSP in UK(113).

7.2.4. The applications of the Invention shown in paragraphs 7.2. 1. to 7. 2.3.

would also enable the user(19) to have a universally applicable telephone number via his MSP(l). He may also be recognized by any pre-arranged name or means, other than a telephone number.

7.2.5. Note that with the use of the Smart Box(2), the user(] 9) does not have to switch on his computer to make the international call through the intemet(I 5). Further, any kind of telephone valued added services may be provided through the Smart Box(2) and analogue lines as well as digital lines.

7.2.6. It should be mentioned that the scenarios in paragraphs 7.2. 1. to 7.2.5.

16 may equally apply to all other multimedia services, for example, fax, intemet(I 5) and TV Multi-telephone sets 5 7.3.1. A conventional analogue telephone line in general use supports a maximum download and upload transfer rate at 56kbps(kilo-bit-persecond) and 33.6kbps respectively But a voice channel usually occupies just 9. 6kbps to 16kbps. So the Invention would allow the MSP-user(I 9) to use, for example, two separate telephone sets independently and I fax machine all in I single line simultaneously, by using the appropriate interfaces(8,9) and linking up all the facilities to the Smart Box(2).

7.3.2. If the user(19) uses a broadband line, he may use even more telephone sets independently as well as other multimedia services at the same time, depending on the bandwidth supplied and demanded.

Enhance securily 7.4. 1. Tapping message over an analogue telephone line has been simple and easy at present. After the Invention, all communications between the MSP(l) and user(19) are made through digitized data. So even the analogue line users(19) may enjoy all security means for digital lines.

7.4.2. If both communication parties are MSP-users(I 9A, 19B), they may use their own encryption algorithms or keys as pre-arranged between themselves, so that even the MSP(l) cannot read their calls as usual(s _i:_ FigUre 4).

7.4.3. Similarly, the said security enhancement may apply to communications in 17 respect of other multimedia.

Setting up Broadcasting Stations at Minimal Capital 7.5.1. At present, it takes huge capital investments in setting up a broadcasting framework, be it cable, wireless, satellite, television, radio or the like.

After the Invention, people can start up any broadcasting business by simply connecting their programmes to the MSP(l) as one of the sources of services(6)(see Fig= 1).

7.5.2. One special benefit of using this Invention is that the communication between the supplier(6) and the users(19) is interactive.

7.5.3. So more competitors may enter the business with minimal investments.

There will be more room for development of different types of programmes or services including even private lectures.

7.6. To conclude the above further embodiments, this Invention allows any services particularly designed to serve digital networks, means facilities and the like become readily available and applicable to analogue networks, means, facilities and the like at low costs and simple way. That would include, for instance, any digital banking services. Similarly, this Invention allows transmission means designated for any particular network, forinat, protocol or the like become compatible with any other networks, formats, protocols or the like. The terms "digital" and "analogue" above are used as examples only.

The underlying principle is that any network, means, facilities and the like may be lined up and pulled together for mutual and multi communications and uses by using this Invention.

18 Remote Control of Electronic Appliances By using this Invention, an MSP-user(19) may have remote control of all electronic appliances at home at minimal costs. He does not have to pay for and install the usual remote control device for the particular appliance.

He only needs to line up the appliances with the Smart Box(2) by installing the appropriate interfaces(8,9). For example, he may turn on the air-conditioner before he arrives at home, or he may have remote surveillance through a video camera. He transmits his instruction data through the MSP(l) as usual.

7.7.2. It is noted that data may also be transmitted from home to reach the user( 19) or any designated receiver outside via the Smart Box(2) and the MSP(l) by using the appropriate interfaces(8,9). For example, unauthorized entrance into a room may be detected by an appropriate electronic apparatus, which would then trigger the relevant data be transmitted in anyway as designated by the user.

Combined use of Internal Facilities 7.8.As shown in Figure I and discussed in paragraphs 2.6.2 and 4.4, any internal facilities(7) may be lined up together to allow the user(19) have free choices of which facility to perform which function. The examples are given in paragraph 2.6.2.

8.1.Although particular embodiments of this Invention have been described, it will be apparent that modifications and variations could be effected by persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit or scope of this Invention which shall be expressed by the appended claims.

19 8.2.Although this Description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of this Invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the above embodiments of this Invention to help understanding how this Invention could be applied. 5

8.3.Thus the scope of this Invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.

I

Claims (34)

1. A multimedia network comprising:
at least one multimedia service provider (1); at least one user device (7); and, at least one interface device (2), each interface device (2) being connected to a multimedia service provider (1) via a first communication link (3), and connected to a user device (7) via a second communication link (4), each interface device comprising:
a first interface means (8) for interfacing with the first communication link (3); and, a second interface means (9) for interfacing with the second communication link (4).
2. A multimedia network as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one interface device (2) is connected to a plurality of user devices (7) via a plurality of respective second communication links (4), and a plurality of respective second interface means (9).
3. A multimedia network as claimed in claim 2, wherein each of the user devices (7) can communicate with any of the other user devices (7) via the interface device (2).
4. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein at least one of the interface devices (2) is connected to a multimedia service provider (1) via a plurality of respective first communication links (3), each of the first communication links (3) having a respective first interface means (8).
I
5. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4, having a plurality of multimedia service providers (1).
6. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of claims I to 5, having a plurality of interface devices (2), wherein each interface device (2) may be connected to one or more user device (7), one or more multimedia service provider (1), and/or one or more interface device (2).
7. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein each multimedia service provider has means for accepting a call intended for a user device (7), and means for routing the call to the user device (7) via a respective interface device (2).
8. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein each multimedia service provider comprises:
switching means for switching information received on any one of a plurality of input lines to any one of a plurality of output lines; and scheduling means for providing priority to different types or classes of information being switched through the multimedia service provider.
9. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein an interface device (2) is connected to a 'User device (7) via a plurality of second communication links (4), thereby increasing the bandwidth available to the user device (7).
10. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the communication speed of the multimedia network is increased by increasing the number of multimedia service providers in the network, thereby shortening the distance between multimedia service providers.
11. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first communications link (3) is a digital communications link, and the second communications link (4) is an analogue communications link, or vice versa, or wherein any or both of the 10 first communication link and second communication link comprises of a combination of digital, analogue or other communication means.
12. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the 15 preceding claims, having means for encrypting communication between any two multimedia service provider users.
13. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the 20 preceding claims, wherein each multimedia service provider may be connected to any number of TV station, telephone company, internet, other multimedia service provider, non-MSP user, or-any other electrical or electronic devices or facilities, whether for providing 25 or receiving services.
14. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein a user device (7) may comprise a TV set, fax machine, computer, telephone or 30 any other electrical or electronic devices or facilities.
15. A multimedia network as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein various service providers and 35 users using different network systems, communication protocols or communication means may communicate with -23 each other.
16. A multimedia network substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and as shown in, Figure 1 to 4 of the drawings.
17. An interface device (2) for interfacing between a multimedia service provider (1) and a user device (7), the interface device (2) comprising:
a first interface means (8) for interfacing with a first communication link (3) which is connected to the multimedia service provider (1); and a second interface means (9) for interfacing with a second communication link (4) which is connected to is the user device (7).
18. An interface device (2) as claimed in claim 17, wherein the first and second interface means (8, 9) convert received information into a common format, such that communication between the first and second interface means (8, 9) is carried out in the common format.
19. An interface device as claimed in claim 17 or 18, having a plurality of first interface means (8) for interfacing with a plurality of respective first communication links (3).
20. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 19, having a plurality of second interface means (9) for interfacing with a plurality of respective second communication links (4).
21. An interface device as claimed in claim 20, wherein each user device (7) can communicate with any of the other user devices (7) via the interface device (2)
22. An interface device as claimed in claim 19, wherein each of the first communication means (3) is connected to one or more multimedia service provider
23. An interface device as claimed in claim 22, wherein each multimedia service provider (1) can communicate with any of the other Multimedia Service Providers (1) via the interface device (2).
24. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 23, wherein any user device (7) connected to the interface device can communicate with any multimedia service provider (1) connected to the interface device, and any multimedia service provider (1) connected to the interface device can communicate with any user device (7) connected to the interface device.
25. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 24, further comprising means for communicating with another interface device (2).
26. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 25, further comprising switching means for switching information between any of the first communication links (3) to any of the second communication links (4) for communication.
27. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 26, further comprising scheduling means for providing priority to different types or classes of information.
28. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 27, further comprising means for handling multiple first communication links (3) and multiple second communication links (4).
29. An interface device as claimed in any one of claims 17 to 28, wherein the interface device (2) comprises a plurality of second interface means (9) for each of the second communication links (4), thereby enabling a plurality of user devices (7) to be connected to the interface device (2) via a single communication link (4).
30. An interface device substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and as shown in, Figure I to 4 of the drawings.
31. A communication system comprising a multimedia service provider having a plurality of access points, each access point having a respective address, the system further comprising at least one interface device (2) having at least one user device connected thereto, each interface device capable of being removably connected to any of the access points, wherein the multimedia service provider comprises means for monitoring the most recent access point to which an interface device has been connected, and directing calls between the multimedia service provider and a user device accordingly.
32. An interface device (2) for interfacing between a first communication link (3) and a plurality of user devices (7), the interface device (2) comprising:
a first interface means (8) for interfacing with the first communication link (3); a plurality of second interface means (9) for interfacing with a plurality of second communication links (4), each of the communication links (4) being connected to a respective user device (7), thereby enabling the plurality of user devices (7) to be simultaneously connected to the single communication link (3).
33. An interface device as claimed in claim 32, wherein the first and second interface means (8, 9) interface between a single analogue telephone line and a plurality of user devices comprising of more than one separate telephone set and at least one facsimile machine.
34. An interface device as claimed in claim 32, wherein the first and second interface means (8, 9) interface between a broadband communication line and a plurality of user devices.
GB9916873A 1999-07-20 1999-07-20 Multimedia network has protocol conversion Withdrawn GB2356521A (en)

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