WO1992001350A1 - Method of establishing a cost-efficient communications path between internationally-remote parties - Google Patents

Method of establishing a cost-efficient communications path between internationally-remote parties Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1992001350A1
WO1992001350A1 PCT/US1991/004700 US9104700W WO9201350A1 WO 1992001350 A1 WO1992001350 A1 WO 1992001350A1 US 9104700 W US9104700 W US 9104700W WO 9201350 A1 WO9201350 A1 WO 9201350A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
intermediary
station
method
accordance
communications
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1991/004700
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
David M. Teller
Original Assignee
Teller David M
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 US54749090A priority Critical
Priority to US547,490 priority
Priority to US64714091A priority
Priority to US647,140 priority
Application filed by Teller David M filed Critical Teller David M
Publication of WO1992001350A1 publication Critical patent/WO1992001350A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q3/00Selecting arrangements
    • H04Q3/0016Arrangements providing connection between exchanges
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/48Arrangements for recalling a calling subscriber when the wanted subscriber ceases to be busy

Abstract

An originator (18) located in a first national state (10) and wishing to establish a communications connection with a target (20) in a second national state (14) initiates a first communications link (22) with a first intermediary station (36) preferably located in substantial geographic proximity to the originator (18) and provides the first station (36), over the first link (22), with identifying information relating to the target (20). The first link (22) is maintained. The first intermediary station (36) then transfers the target-identifying information to a second intermediary station (38) preferably located in substantial geographic proximity to the target (20). The second intermediary station (38) thereafter initiates and establishes a second communications link (26) with the target (20) and a third communications link (50) with the first intermediary station (36). Finally, the second intermediary station (38) interconnects the second (26) and third (50) links, and the first intermediary station (36) interconnects the third (50) and first (22) links, thereby forming an integrated composite communications path or channel between the originator (18) and target (20).

Description

METHOD OF ESTABLISHING A COST-EFFICIENT COMMUNICATIONS PATH BETWEEN INTERNATIONALLY-REMOTE PARTIES

FIELD OP THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to methods of initiating and arranging communications connections such as, but not limited to, audio or voice-type telephone links between exactly two parties at remotely spaced-apart locations, particularly at internationally-remote locations such as where one of the parties is located in the United States and the other is in a foreign country.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Persons having the need to communicate, as by telephone, with another located at an internationally-remote location quickly learn that the cost of a call between, by way of example, France and the United States varies greatly depending upon the country of origin — i.e. the place from which the call is placed. Thus, a call initiated or originating in Paris and directed to a party in New York will typically cost significantly more than the cost of the same call if originated from New York. Many factors contribute to this sizable disparity, including the often inexplicable vagaries of international long distance carrier toll charges, the general inability to direct-dial, without operator intervention, a call from most foreign countries to the United States, and the need, when placing a call to the United States from a foreign state, to utilize and thereby subject oneself to the operator-assisted toll rates and tariffs of foreign telephone companies and communications carriers. This direction-dependent differential in calling charges is so significant that internationally-separated persons who must communicate with some frequency or regularity, for business or pleasure or otherwise personal reasons, often go to great lengths or employ elaborate subterfuges in efforts to have the communications link billed at the lowest applicable rates then available. In one commonly-used ploy where a foreign-based caller wishes to speak with a U.S.- based target, the foreign caller will telephone the U.S. target, orally inform the target of the caller's telephone number, and then immediately hang up and wait for the target to return the call — thereby resulting in the follow-up call being billed at the markedly lower rates applicable to U.S.- originating calls rather than at the higher rates applied to calls originating in the foreign country. Such a system is, however, highly dependent on the foreign originator's ability to keep the initial call as short in time as possible, a factor not often within the exclusive control of the originator and thus subject to numerous common call-lengthening delays and other difficulties. For example, the target may not have a writing implement, for recording the number to which the return call is to be directed, handy or readily available at the time of the initial call, thus unexpectedly increasing the caller's foreign-originating call time and costs and substantially diminishing the advantages to be gained by the call-back. Similarly, the wrong person may answer the call at the target's location, and the resulting delays in locating the target and in putting him or her on the line similarly skew the economic advantages potentially attainable. This latter problem is particularly acute in business- related calls in which, by the time the call is directed through a company switchboard and one or more secretaries or other intermediaries and finally reaches the target, much of the savings available through the return call-back are lost for all but unusually lengthy follow-up connections. Moreover, in a business environment it would be both unusual and unprofessional to place a foreign call to a business contact and then ask to be "called back". An analogous situation exists with respect to intranational and even local communications connections or calls initiated, for example, from many hotels and inns which charge a substantial premium for such calls as compared to nn incoming call directed to a hotel guest to which no surcharges or artificially-inflated toll rates are applied.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is accordingly the desideratum of the present invention to provide a method of minimizing or reducing the monetary costs associated with establishing and maintaining a communications path or connection between remotely-located parties where the calling or connection time charges differ as a function of the location from which the call originates. It is a particular object of the invention to provide such a method wherein the communications connection is between exactly two parties. It is a further object of the invention to provide such a method where the parties are located at internationally-remote locations in different national states. It is another object of the invention to provide such a method where the target of the communications connection is located in the United States and the originator of the connection is located in an internationally-remote, foreign national state. An additional object of the invention is to provide such a method wherein the foreign-located originator of the call may avoid all or substantially all international tariff or toll charges associated with the initiation of a communications connection to the internationally- remote target's national state while directing the initiation of the intended communications connection from the target's location. Still another object of the invention is to provide such a method that is simple and straightforward to use and can thus be readily practiced by virtually anyone without regard to educational background or special training. Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, wherein similar reference characters denote like elements throughout the several views: Fig. 1 is a diagra matically illustrative depiction of an international setting for use in describing a first embodiment of a method in accordance with the present invention; Fig. 2 is a diagrammatically illustrative depiction, similar to Fig. 1, of an international setting for use in describing a second embodiment of a method in accordance with the invention; Fig. 3 is a diagrammatically illustrative depiction of an international setting for use in describing a third embodiment of a method in accordance with the invention; and Fig. 4 is a diagrammatically illustrative depiction, similar to Fig. 3, of an international setting for use in describing a fourth embodiment of a method in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to the initiation and arranging and establishment of communications connections between two, preferably exactly two, parties at remotely spaced-apart locations. It is particularly directed to the establishing of such connections at reduced or minimized cost where the normal costs of a conventional direct connection between the parties differ, often by a substantial margin or multiple, as a function of the location from which the connection originates or, put another way, the direction of the call. In each of the currently preferred embodiments of the invention herein disclosed, the exactly two parties are located at internationally-separated or remote locations in different national states and, most preferably, one of the parties is located in the United States and the other is in another, i.e. foreign, country. Various terms used in this disclosure are intended to have and encompass meanings broader than that which might otherwise at first be apparent. Thus, unless otherwise indicated or contextually clear, references to communications connections or links should be understood as including all hookups, whether by wire or radiowaves or some combination thereof, between spaced apart locations for the purpose of transmitting or receiving or exchanging, inter alia, voice or other audio-based signals, video information or imaging signals, and/or encoded or unencoded data signals, whether in analog or digital format or both. For additional ease of description, the communications connection may frequently be described as or in terms of a voice- type telephone call, although such usage is not intended to be understood as a limitation on the manner of establishing the link or on the information transmitted or transmittable therethrough. The parties or persons between which the communications links are established may be human individuals, or automated and/or manually- operated equipment or apparatus, or an entity such as a corporation, or any combination thereof. For convenience, and to further facilitate ready understanding of the invention, the party by whom the communications link is, at the outset, arranged or initiated is generally referred to as the originator, and the party with which the originator intends to finally complete the connection is, herein, identified as the target or receptor. Thus, all of these terms should be understood in their broadest senses and in an inclusive and nonlimiting manner. A first embodiment of the inventive method will now be described with specific reference to Fig. 1 of the drawings. Diagrammatically depicted in Fig. 1 are the border 10 of a first national state 12 and the border 14 of a second national state 16. The states 12, 16 are internationally- remote from each other and, as such, they may be contiguous along a common border or border portion or physically separated by one or more land masses or other national states or jurisdictions and/or by one or more bodies of water. Thus, the national states 12, 16 may, for example, represent two different countries, or geographical regions, or other spaced apart entities or places between which communications connections are intended. It is generally contemplated, in accordance with the invention, that the cost of establishing and maintaining a communications link of given duration between the national states 12, 16 differs as a function of the state from which the link is initiated and, for ease of description, it is herein assumed that these costs or charges are greater where the link originates from the first national state 12 than from the second state 16. It is further assumed in this disclosure — solely by way of example and, once again, to facilitate an understanding of the invention — that the first national state 12 is France and the second national state 16 is the United States of America. At the present time, the toll charges for telephone calls made from France to the United States greatly exceeds the charges for calls made from the United States to France. In any event, the originator 18 — whose desire or intention it is to establish the communications connection or link with the target 20 — is located in the first national state 12 (France) and the target 20 is located in the second national state 16 (the United States) . In this first-described embodiment of the inventive method, the originator 18 initiates a first communications link 22, as for example by dialing on or in association with a conventional telephone instrument or the like, from the originator's location to an intermediary 24 situated in the second national state 16 of the target. The intermediary 24 — which, in accordance with the invention, functions to establish communications connections — may 1 comprise a live person acting, as will hereinafter

. 2 become apparent, somewhat in the manner of a

3 telephone or switchboard operator or the like, or it

4 may be implemented by suitable automated or

5 semiautomated switching and communications linking

6 equipment. When the first link 22 has been

7 established, the originator 18 provides or transmits

8 or passes to the intermediary 24, over the

9 communications link 22, identifying information

10 relating to the location and/or identity of the

11 intended target 20. This identifying information

12 may, for example, be the telephone number, as with

13 all relevant country and/or area codes, of the

14 target, and/or it may comprise other information

15 relating to the target and from which the

16 intermediary 24 is capable of deriving or

17 determining the telephone number or other

18 communications channel linking data for the target.

19 It should be further understood that the originator

20 18 may provide the intermediary 24 with the

21 identifying information in any suitable manner such

22 as orally, or by manually entering the data through

23 the originator's telephone or other keypad or

24 keyboard in response to a specific request for the

25 information from the intermediary, or in any other

26 appropriate fashion as a matter of design or

27 operating choice. It will also generally be

28 necessary for the originator 18 to identify his or * 29 her own identity and/or location to the intermediary

30 over or through the first link 22, although

31 arrangements in which the separate, specific

32 transmission of originator-identifying information

33 to the intermediary is not required — as for

34 example where frequent or regular users of or subscribers to a system implementing the invention access a dedicated link to the intermediary, or the intermediary or communications system otherwise has the capability to automatically identify the location and/or identity of the originator 18 of the first communications link 22 — are also within the intended scope and contemplation of the invention. For purposes of explanation, it is assumed herein that the originator provides the intermediary with his or her telephone number and/or a subscriber account code, and with the telephone number of the target, either orally or by entering the appropriate digits through a touch-tone dialing keypad. Optionally, the originator may also supply the intermediary with time or interval delay information for instructing the intermediary to establish the subsequent communications link with the target, as will hereinafter be understood, at a thus-specified future time or delay interval rather than immediately as is normally contemplated. After the originator 18 has supplied the intermediary 24, through the first communications link 22, with at least the identifying information relating to the intended target 20, the link 22 may be and is, preferably, terminated. Termination of the link 22 may be effected by or from the location of either the originator 18 or the intermediary 24. The intermediary then initiates and establishes a second communications link 26 from the intermediary to the location of the target 20 using, or by derivatively making use of, the target-identifying information supplied to the intermediary by the originator over the first communications link 22. Here again, described in the context of a conventional voice-type telephone connection, the second link 26 may for example be initiated by manual or automated or semiautomated dialing of a standard telephone instrument or the like, or through electronic generation of conventional touch- tone dialing tone pairs or of other data signals as is well known in the art, over a voice-grade analog telephone line. When the second communications link 26 has been established between the intermediary 24 and the location of the target 20, and in the event that the originator 18 has communicated to the intermediary the originator's intention to establish a connection with a particular target individual, the intermediary may, optionally, determine whether that target individual is at the target location or is otherwise available. The intermediary 24 also initiates and establishes a third communications link 28 from the intermediary to the location of the originator 18; this third link may be set up prior to, or substantially concurrently with, or subsequent to the establishment of the second link 26. The third communications link 28, like the second link, may for example comprise a voice-grade analog communications path over standard telephone lines or the like and may be initiated by conventional dialing of a telephone-type instrument or equivalent pulse or tone-generating apparatus. With the second and third communications links 26, 28 established, the second and third links are connected together so as to enable direct communication between the originator 18 and the target 20. This connection of the second and third communications links or paths may be effected by, and at or from the location of, the intermediary 24, and may be carried out in any conventional or otherwise suitable manner including, but not limited to, interconnecting the data-carrying communications lines directly or across an isolating transformer or the like. It is not necessary — indeed, in most presently contemplated situations it is neither intended nor desired — that the intermediary remain as a third communicating party in the interconnected second and third communications links. In any event, in accordance with the invention an integrated communications pathway or connection or channel between the originator 18 in the first national state 12, and the target 20 in the second national state 16, is thus established, with both parts of the integrated communications channel — i.e. the second and third links 26, 28 — having originated in or been initiated from the second national state. Since the communications tariffs or rates are substantially lower on calls originating in the second state 16 as compared to those originating in the first state 12, the resulting integrated communications path or channel between the originator and the target will cost significantly less than had the originator directly called or otherwise initiated a direct link to the target. As should now be apparent, the total cost of establishing and maintaining the integrated communications connection between the originator 18 and target 20 will be, at a minimum, the sum of three separate components — i.e. the cost of the first link 22 from the originator to the intermediary 24, the cost of the second link 26 from the intermediary to the target, and the cost of the third link 28 from the intermediary to the originator. In accordance with current communications rate structures, each of these costs will generally be determined, inter alia, as a function of the timed length or duration of the respective connection. Thus, in the context of this first embodiment of the inventive method as described in conjunction with Fig. 1, this total cost may be minimized by minimizing the duration of the first link 22 so as to reduce the cost of that first link, and by attempting to have the lowest possible communications rates applied to the second link 26 between the intermediary 24 and target 20 through, for example, minimizing the physical distance between the intermediary and target. This latter objective of advantageously minimizing the cost of the second link through physical proximity of the intermediary and target may, by way of example, be achieved in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention. This second embodiment contemplates a relatively minor modification to the first form of the invention described in conjunction with Fig. 1 and, as such, only the specific modifications and their effects on the hereinabove-disclosed method will be expressly pointed out. Thus, and as shown in Fig. 2, the intermediary in this second embodiment comprises a multiplicity of physically remote or separated parts or stations, all located in the second national state 14, and identified in the drawing as a first intermediary station 30 and a second intermediary station 32. As a practical matter, one of the intermediary stations 30, 32 will generally be physically closer to the intended target 20 —or at least at a location from which the charges for a call to the target are less — than the other and, for purposes of description, it is assumed that the second intermediary 32 is located closer to the target 20 than is the first intermediary 30. Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate, as this description proceeds, that the number of intermediary parts or stations may advantageously, and will preferably, exceed two and, indeed, that as a general matter the greater the number of such stations located in and about the second national state 16 the greater the potential cost savings that can be realized in accordance with the invention. Thus, a communications network or system developed or available for use in the practice of the method of the invention may advantageously include a plurality of physically-separated intermediary parts or stations or locations. Nevertheless, for ease of description — and since it is presently contemplated in respect of this second embodiment that, for any particular communications connection between an originator 18 and a target 20, no more than two (of perhaps many available) intermediate stations will be employed — only the two stations 30, 32 are illustrated in Fig. 2. In this second embodiment of the invention, the originator 18 initiates the first communications link 22 to one of the intermediary stations, shown by way of example in Fig. 2 as the first station 30. It is generally contemplated that the originator will initiate the first link to that intermediary station to which the communications rates are the lowest relative to the other intermediary stations, typically that station located in closest physical proximity to the originator. For example, if the originator 18 is in Paris, France, the first station 30 is in New York City and the second station 32 is in Los Angeles, California, the originator may perhaps minimize the cost of the first link 22 by calling the first station 30 in New York rather than the second station 32 in Los Angeles. After the originator 18 has provided the first intermediary station 30, over or through the first link 22, with the identifying information relating to the location and/or identity of the target 20, the first link preferably is terminated as heretofore described in connection with the Fig. 1 embodiment of the invention. With the identifying information in hand, the first station 30 — recognizing or determining that the second station 32 is located in physically- closer proximity or in an otherwise more cost- effective location to the target than the first station 30 — initiates or establishes a communications interlink 34 to the second intermediary station 32. The first station 30 then transmits or provides the identifying information received from the originator 18, or related target- location information derived therefrom, to the second station 32 over the interlink 34. The interlink 34 may be terminated, by or from either the first or second intermediary stations as a matter of design choice or operating efficiency or capability, after the required information has been passed from the first station 30 to the second station 32 over the interlink. Having received this identifying information over the interlink 34, the second station may then proceed to establish the second and third communications links 26, 28 to the target 20 and originator 18, respectively, and to interconnect the two for enabling direct communication between the originator and target in accordance with the description hereinabove set forth with respect to the first embodiment of the inventive method. Thus, in accordance with this second embodiment and modification of the first-disclosed method of the invention, the cost of one of the major components of the total communications charges incurred in creating an integrated communications pathway or channel between the originator 18 and target 20 — more particularly the cost of the second communications link 26 — is reduced. It should also be recognized that the additional costs associated with establishing the interlink 34 may be minimized by implementing the interlink, by way of example, using dedicated lines or transmission paths between the intermediary stations, or through microwave or other high-speed data links for transmitting the target-identifying information between intermediary stations in multiplexed or other high-speed data bursts. A third embodiment of the invention will now be described with specific reference to Fig. 3 of the drawings. Here, again, to avoid unnecessary repetition only the specific modifications to the earlier-described embodiments and the effects of such modifications will be expressly described. As shown in Fig. 3, the intermediary is in this instance comprised of physically-separated first and second stations 36, 38 which are .located in different national states. In the particular form of the invention illustrated, the first station 36 is located in the first national state 12 — in which the originator 18 is also located — and the second station 38 is located in the second national state 16 of the target 20. This arrangement accordingly results in a substantial reduction in the cost of the originator-initiated first link 22 from the originator 18 to the intermediary over those alternate arrangements heretofore described since the first link need not, in this case, cross national borders or boundaries. Indeed, where the originator and first intermediary station 36 are located in relatively close physical proximity, the cost of the first link 22 may be so small as to be effectively insignificant; for this purpose, multiple first stations 36 may be located throughout the first national state 12 for use by variously- located originators in the first state 12. And although further modifications in which the first intermediary station 36 is located in a third national state — i.e. a state other than both the first and second states 12, 16 — are also contemplated, even then may the costs of the first link 22 be reduced over the previously-described embodiments by locating the first station 36 in such a third national state to which the communications rates or charges for links originating in the first state 12 are lower than for links directed from the first to the second state 16. In order to take maximum advantage of the first link cost savings available in the practice of the Fig. 3 embodiment of the invention, it is preferred that the transmission of the target- identifying information from the first intermediary station 36 to the second station 38, over an interlink established therebetween, be effected in an efficient and most economical manner. One of way of achieving economical transmission of the identifying information between the respective intermediary stations in the first and second national states is, subject to suitable inter- station spacing or distance, the use of line-of- sight microwave broadcast links through which high- speed data transmissions are readily accomplished. Where the distance between the first and second stations 36, 38, or additional physical or economic or other factors, do not permit such microwave links, however, alternative interlinking arrangements may be employed. As diagrammatically illustrated, by way of example, in Fig. 3, the communications interlink between the first and second intermediary stations 36, 38 may comprise the combination of a data transmission uplink 40 to and downlink 42 from a satellite or data relaying spacecraft 44 located in a suitable orbital location or path. Similar arrangements in which a transmitted data signal is bounced or reflected off an atmospheric layer or the like, as is known, are also contemplated. Indeed, the exact manner of achieving or effectuating the interlink between the first and second intermediary stations 36, 38, and the preferred use of high-speed data transmission methods and apparatus, should be understood to be general matters of design choice selected in accordance with the intended functionality and operational efficiency of the inventive method. Yet another embodiment of the invention is illustrated in Fig. 4 of the drawings. This fourth embodiment is most similar to that hereinabove described in connection with Fig. 3, differing primarily in the inclusion of a third intermediary station 46 located in the second national state 16 and, most preferably, in closer physical proximity to the target 20 than the second intermediary station 38. As should by now be apparent, in this fourth embodiment the target-identifying information received by the second station 38 over the interlink 40, 42 is, in turn passed on or transmitted to the third station 46 over a second interlink 48 — of any suitable form — connecting the second and third intermediary stations 38, 46. It is contemplated that the second interlink 48 is initiated and established by the second station 38 for the purpose of passing the target-identifying information on to the third station 46, following which the second interlink may be terminated. The identifying information may thus be passed on to the third intermediary station to take advantage of the closer proximity of the third station 46 than the second station 38 to the target 20. In other arrangements, the second station 38 may be constructed or functional solely for receiving downlinked data from the satellite 44 or the like whereby transmission or passage of the target-identifying data to another intermediary station — identified herein as the third station 46 — whether or not in closer physical proximity to the target 20, would be necessary. In any event, in this last embodiment of the invention it is the third station 46 that initiates or establishes the second link 26 to the target 20 and the third link 28 to the originator 18, and that effects or initiates the interconnection of the second and third links to place the originator and target in direct communication with one another. A fifth embodiment of the invention will now be described with particular reference to Fig. 5. Fig. 5 is perhaps most similar to that arrangement previously disclosed in conjunction with Fig. 3 and, to avoid unnecessary repetition, only the specific modifications to that earlier-described method will be expressly described. As seen in Fig. 5, here again the intermediary is formed of physically-separated first and second stations 36, 38 which are located in different national states 12, 16. In this embodiment, it is most preferred — for reasons that will soon become apparent — that the first station 36 is located in the first national state 12 of the originator 18, or at least at a location geographically proximate the originator 18 or otherwise sufficient to suitably minimize the monetary cost of the originator-initiated first link 22 from the originator to the first intermediary station 36. This preference is based on one of the primary differences between this fifth embodiment and that previously described with respect to Fig. 3; namely, in this further embodiment the first link 22 is maintained — i.e. is not terminated by either the originator 18 or the first intermediary station 36 — after the originator has supplied the statxon 36 with the target identifying information as, for example, through the satellite uplink 40 and downlink 42. Rather, the first link 22 is maintained while the first station 36 communicates with the second intermediary station 38, and while the second station 38 originates and establishes the second communications link 26 from the second station to the target 20. Neither is the first link 22 terminated as the second intermediary station 38 originates and establishes a third communications link 50 from the second station to the first intermediary station 36. When this third link 50 has been established, the second and third links 26, 50 are connected together by the second intermediary station 38 so as to enable direct communication therebetween of voice or data or other signals carried respectively thereon. Similarly, and preferably or generally substantially concurrently therewith, the third link 50 and the first link 22 are connected together by the first intermediary station 36, thereby completing an integrated, direct communication path between the originator 18 and the target 20 over the now-connected links 22, 50, 26. The advantages of this last-described embodiment of the invention are significant. For example, this method provides a calling or communications arrangement that operates, with respect to most conventional, currently-practiced methods, most normally or transparently to the user — particularly the originator 18. There is no need for the originator to first place the call, hang up and await a callback (unless, of course, predeterminately delayed completion of the composite connection has expressly been requested or the target is not immediately available as, by way of example, in the case of a busy called line) . The call is placed by the originator and, after a not- unduly lengthy or unusual delay for an international call, the target comes on the line. Automated or directly-spoken voice prompts or status statements may be provided to the originator, and/or to the target, from time-to-time as may be necessary or appropriate. Moreover, the initial provision of the target-identifying information may be handled in a wholly or partly automated fashion, such as by having the originator first key in the telephone number of the first station 36, awaiting an instructional tone or message, and then keying in the target's telephone number or the like. Similarly, data identifying the originator can be supplied automatically by suitable apparatus, perhaps built into a subscriber's telephone set or line- and well within the skilled individual's abilities to construct, that is directly interrogated by the intermediary station. This fifth embodiment of the inventive method is also especially capable of realizing significant economic savings to the operator of such a system of which originating subscribers may become members to achieve notable savings in placing international calls from foreign national states. By appropriate placement of multiple intermediary stations throughout the national states of originators and targets to whom the service is specifically directed, and the use of such suitably selected communications links such as satellite channels, microwave links, and dedicated or leased lines and the like, the service provider may greatly minimize its direct communications costs in establishing originator-to-target communications paths to a level potentially far below those available to direct dialers from whichever direction of the link. That is, as seen in Fig. 5 the originator 18 may, by way of example, himself pay the cost of the first link 22 which, for callers in major foreign or metropolitan cities, may in effect be only that for a "local" call. Suitable placement of multiple second intermediary stations 38 in the nationality or location or geographic proximity of the target will minimize the cost of the second link 26 and, again, may result in a only substantially token charge for a "local" call as the second link 26. Finally, by assuring in accordance with this method that the third link 50 is placed between its own intermediary stations 36, 38, the service provider is capable of exercising maximum control over the costs of the third link by, as indicated above, constructing or contracting for the use of reduced-cost dedicated lines or links. Indeed, as should now be apparent while the present invention may be initially presented or marketed to the public as an economical way of "reversing" charges on calls or communications links established from foreign nationalities or locations of unusually high cost, this fifth embodiment provides an arrangement wherein the relative cost differential in making a call from the originator to the target, or vice- versa, is almost besides the point. Finally, it should be noted and pointed out that although this fifth embodiment of the invention has been described with specific reference to Fig. 5 of the drawings which depicts an intermediary comprised of only two (i.e. first and second) stations 36, 38, those skilled in the art should by now readily appreciate that maximum efficiency of operation of this last-disclosed method may be realized by increasing the number of first, and/or second, stations 36, 38. That is, in a most preferred form of this fifth embodiment at least the second intermediary station 38 consists of a plurality of substations located suitably about the second national state 16 and, in a still further preferred embodiment, the first intermediary station 36 similarly consists of a plurality of substations located suitably about the first national state 12 or otherwise in sufficient geographic proximity to the locations of service subscriber originators 18. Moreover, such an arrangement can be most efficiently and economically practiced by implementing each intermediary station or substation with fully or appropriately automated apparatus dedicated to the purposes and operating practices herein disclosed. While there have been shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to several preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various additional omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the methods described and illustrated, and in the manner of their practice, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize and appreciate, by way of example, that the exact order or sequence in which the various steps that comprise the inventive method are implemented or practiced may be varied as matters of design choice and operating preference and/or to suit or adapt to conditions relevant to the details of the communications links or paths which are initiated or established. Moreover, although the invention has been described herein in the context of communications connections between internationally- remote parties, the same or similar cost-saving methods may be applied to intranational communications where the originator and target are located in the same national state and the costs of a conventional direct communications connection between the parties are notably greater when the path is established by the originator than when established by the target. It is also contemplated that, in order to further minimize the costs of the first communications link 22 in the various disclosed embodiments of the invention, that link may comprise a high speed or other data link over which the originator can transmit to the intermediary a compressed or otherwise defined packet or batch of information containing such data as the identity and/or location of the intended target, and the identity and/or location of the originator. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.

Claims

What is claimed is: 1. A method of completing a communications connection between exactly two persons each internationally-remote from the other, said persons comprising an originator at a location in a first national state and a receptor at a location in a second national state, comprising the steps of: (A) initiating a first communications connection from the location of said originator to an intermediary in a national state other than said first national state for the sole purpose of supplying said intermediary with identifying information relating to at least one of the identity of the receptor, the location of the receptor, the identity of the originator and the location of the originator; (B) communicating to said intermediary, through said first communications connection, said identifying information; (C) terminating said first communications connection after said step of communicating the identifying information to the intermediary; (D) initiating a second communications connection from said intermediary to the location of the receptor; (E) initiating a third communications connection from said intermediary to the location of the originator; and (F) connecting said second and third communications connections so as to link the internationally-remote locations of and thereby complete a communications connection between the originator and the receptor; wherein said step (B) is carried out after said step (A) , said step (C) is carried out after said step (B) , and said steps (D) , (E) and (F) are carried out after said step (C) . 2. A method in accordance with claim *., wherein said identifying information communicated to the intermediary comprises a telephone number of the location of the receptor. 3. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said second and third communications connections comprise voice-type telephone links so as to enable a telephone conversation between the originator and the receptor on completion of said steps (D) , (E) and (F) . 4. A method in accordance with claim 2, wherein said second and third communications connections comprise voice-type telephone links so as to enable a telephone conversation between the originator and the receptor on completion of said steps (D) , (E) and (F) . 5. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first communications connection is initiated by the originator. 6. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said identifying information is communicated to said intermediary by the originator. 7. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said second communications connection is initiated utilizing the identifying information communicated to the intermediary over said first communications connection. 8. A method in accordance with claim 6, wherein said second communications connection is initiated utilizing the identifying information communicated to the intermediary over said first communications connection. 9. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said step (F) is carried out after said steps (D) and (E) . 10. A method in accordance with claim 9, wherein said step (E) is carried after said step (D) . 11. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said intermediary is located in said second national state. 12. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein the intermediary performs said step (F) of connecting the second and third communications connections. 13. A method in accordance with claim 11, wherein said intermediary comprises a first station and a second station, said second station being located in closer physical proximity than said first station to the receptor, said intermediary of said steps (A) , (B) and (C) comprising said first station, said intermediary of said steps (D) and (E) comprising said second station, and further comprising the steps of: (G) initiating a fourth communications connection from said first station to said second station; and (H) communicating from said first station to said second station, through said fourth communications connection, said identifying information communicated to said first station through said first communications connection. 14. A method in accordance with claim 13, wherein said steps (G) and (H) are carried out between said steps (C) and (D) . 15. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said intermediary comprises a first station and a second station, said second station being located in closer physical proximity than said first station to the receptor, said intermediary of said steps (A) , (B) and (C) comprising said first station, said intermediary of said steps (D) and (E) comprising said second station, and further comprising the steps of: (G) initiating a fourth communications connection from said first station to said second station; and (H) communicating from said first station to said second station, through said fourth communications connection, said identifying information communicated to said first station through said first communications connection. 16. A method in accordance with claim 15, wherein said steps (G) and (H) are carried out between said steps (C) and (D) . 17. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein said intermediary comprises a first station and a second station, said second station being located in said second national state, said intermediary of said steps (A) , (B) and (C) comprising said first station, said intermediary of said steps (D) and (E) comprising said second station, and further comprising the steps of: (G) initiating a fourth communications connection from said first station to said second station; and (H) communicating from said first station to said second station, through said fourth communications connection, said identifying information communicated to said first station through said first communications connection. 18. A method in accordance with claim 17, wherein said steps (G) and (H) are carried out between said steps (C) and (D) . 19. A method in accordance with claim 17, wherein said step (F) is carried out at said second station of said intermediary. 20. A method of completing a communications connection between exactly two persons each internationally-remote from the other, said persons comprising an originator at a location in a first national state and a receptor in a second national state, comprising the steps of: (A) supplying to a means for establishing communications connections, through a first communications link connecting said means and the originator, identifying information relating to at least one of the identity of the receptor, the location of the receptor, the identity of the originator and the location of the originator, said first link being initiated by the originator and being directed by the originator to said means for the sole purpose of supplying said means with said identifying information, said means for establishing communications connections being located at a location remote from the location of the originator; (B) initiating a second communications link from said means to the location of the receptor; (C) initiating a third communications link from said means to the location of the originator; and (D) connecting said second and third communications links so as to complete a communications connection between the internationally-remote locations of the originator and receptor; whereby said steps (B) , (C) and (D) are carried out after said step (A) . 21. A method in accordance with claim 20, wherein said means comprises a first intermediary and a second intermediary including means for establishing a fourth communications link connecting said first and second intermediaries, said second intermediary being located in a national state other than said first national state, and wherein said first communications link connects said first intermediary and the originator. 22. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 23. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said second intermediary initiates said second and third communications links. 24. A method in accordance with claim 23, further comprising the step of (E) communicating said identifying information from said first to said second intermediary using a fourth communications link established by said means for establishing a fourth communications link. 25. A method in accordance with claim 23, further comprising the step of (E) communicating a receptor location-identifier, derived from said identifying information, from said first to said second intermediary using a fourth communications link established by said means for establishing said fourth communications link. 26. A method in accordance with claim 24, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 27. A method in accordance with claim 25, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 28. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said second intermediary is located in said second national state. 29. A method in accordance with claim 22, wherein said second intermediary is located in said second national state. 30. A method in accordance with claim 24, wherein said second intermediary is located in said second national state. 31. A method in accordance.with claim 26, wherein said second intermediary is located in said second national state. 32. A method in accordance with claim 20, wherein said step (A) comprises the steps of: (E) establishing the first communications link; (F) communicating said identifying information from the originator to said means; and (G) terminating the first communications link; wherein said step (F) is carried out after said step (E) and said step (G) is carried out after said step (F) . 33. A method in accordance with claim 32, wherein said means comprises a first intermediary, a second intermediary and means for establishing a fourth communications link connecting said first and second intermediaries, said second intermediary being located in a national state other than said first national state, and wherein said first communications link connects said first intermediary and the originator. 34. A method in accordance with claim 33, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 35. A method in accordance with claim 20, wherein said first communications link comprises a data link. 36. A method in accordance with claim 32, wherein said first communications link comprises a data link. 37. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said fourth communications link comprises a data link. 38. A method in accordance with claim 37, wherein said first communications link comprises a data link. 39. A method in accordance with claim 37, wherein said second intermediary is located in said second national state and said first intermediary is located in a national state other than said first and second national states. 40. A method in accordance with claim 39, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state. 41. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said fourth communications link comprises a high speed data link. 42. A method in accordance with claim 20, wherein said means performs said step (D) of connecting the second and third communications links. 43. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said second intermediary performs said step (D) of connecting the second and third communications links. 44. A method in accordance with claim 23, wherein said second intermediary performs said step (D) of connecting the second and third communications links. 45. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein said means further comprises a third intermediary including means for establishing a fifth communications link connecting said second and third intermediaries, said third intermediary being located in said second national state. 46. A method in accordance with claim 45, wherein said third intermediary initiates said second and third communications links. 47. A method in accordance with claim 46, further comprising the steps of: (E) communicating said identifying information from said first to said second intermediary using a fourth communications link established by said means for establishing a fourth communications link; and (F) communicating said identifying information from said second to said third intermediary using a fifth communications link established by said means for establishing a fifth communications link. 48. A method in accordance with claim 47, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 49. A method in accordance with claim 47, wherein said second and third intermediaries are located in said second national state. 50. A method in accordance with claim 49, wherein said third intermediary is located in closer proximity to said target than said second intermediary. 51. A method in accordance with claim 50, wherein said first intermediary is located in said first national state of the originator. 52. A method of completing a composite communications connection between exactly two persons each internationally-remote from the other, said persons comprising an originator at a location in a first national state and a receptor at a location in a second national state, comprising the steps of: (A) initiating a first communications connection from the location of said originator to a first station of a means for establishing communications connections, said first station being located in geographic proximity to the location of the originator; (B) supplying to the first station, through the first communications link connecting the first station and the originator, identifying information relating to at least one of the identity of the receptor and the location of the receptor; (C) maintaining said first communications connection during the entire time from said initiation thereof to the completion of said composite communications connection; (D) transferring said identifying information to a second station of said means for establishing communications connections, said second station being located in closer geographic proximity to the location of the receptor than said first station; (E) initiating a second communications link from said second station to the location of the receptor; (F) initiating a third communications link from said second station to said first station; (G) connecting said second and third communications links at said second station; and (H) connecting said third and first communications links at said first station so as to complete a composite communications connection between the internationally-remote locations of the originator and receptor over the combination of said first, second and third communications links; whereby said steps (E) , (F) , (G) and (H) are carried out after said step (A) , said step (D) is carried out after said step (A) , and said step (F) is carried out after said step (D) . 53. A method in accordance with claim 52, wherein said first station includes means for establishing a fourth communications link at least temporarily connecting said first and second stations and over which said identifying information is supplied from said first to said second station. 54. A method in accordance with claim 53, wherein said fourth communications link comprises a unidirectional link for transmitting said 1 identifying information from said first to said
* 2 second station.
3 55. A method in accordance with claim 53,
4 further comprising the step of (I) terminating said
5 fourth communications link after said supplying of
6 said identifying information from said first to said
7 second stations over said fourth link.
8 56. A method in accordance with claim 52,
9 wherein said first station is located in said first
10 national state of the originator.
11 57. A method in accordance with claim 52,
12 wherein said second station is located in said
13 second national state of the receptor.
14 58. A method in accordance with claim 52,
15 wherein said first station is located in said first
16 national state of the originator and the second
17 station is located in said second national state of
18 the receptor.
19 59. A method in accordance with claim 52,
20 wherein said second station performs said step (E)
21 of initiating said second communications link.
22 60. A method in accordance with claim 52,
23 wherein said second station performs said step (F)
24 of initiating said third communications link.
25 61. A method in accordance with claim 59,
26 wherein said second station performs said step (F)
27 of initiating said third communications link.
PCT/US1991/004700 1990-07-03 1991-07-02 Method of establishing a cost-efficient communications path between internationally-remote parties WO1992001350A1 (en)

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US54749090A true 1990-07-03 1990-07-03
US547,490 1990-07-03
US64714091A true 1991-01-29 1991-01-29
US647,140 1991-01-29

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US8325897B1 (en) 2006-11-10 2012-12-04 Callwave Communications, Llc Methods and systems for providing telecommunications services

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