WO1998019446A1 - Method for transmitting a fax communication - Google Patents

Method for transmitting a fax communication

Info

Publication number
WO1998019446A1
WO1998019446A1 PCT/US1997/017466 US9717466W WO1998019446A1 WO 1998019446 A1 WO1998019446 A1 WO 1998019446A1 US 9717466 W US9717466 W US 9717466W WO 1998019446 A1 WO1998019446 A1 WO 1998019446A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
fax
network
switch
number
call
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1997/017466
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
David Friend
Original Assignee
Faxnet Corp.
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

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32037Automation of particular transmitter jobs, e.g. multi-address calling, auto-dialing
    • H04N1/32064Multi-address calling
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32037Automation of particular transmitter jobs, e.g. multi-address calling, auto-dialing
    • H04N1/32074Redialing, e.g. after failure to make a connection
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32358Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter
    • H04N1/324Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter intermediate the transmitter and receiver terminals, e.g. at an exchange
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32358Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter
    • H04N1/324Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter intermediate the transmitter and receiver terminals, e.g. at an exchange
    • H04N1/32406Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter intermediate the transmitter and receiver terminals, e.g. at an exchange in connection with routing or relaying, e.g. using a fax-server or a store-and-forward facility
    • H04N1/32411Handling instructions for routing or relaying
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32358Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter
    • H04N1/324Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter intermediate the transmitter and receiver terminals, e.g. at an exchange
    • H04N1/32432Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device using picture signal storage, e.g. at transmitter intermediate the transmitter and receiver terminals, e.g. at an exchange in a particular memory file for retrieval by the user, e.g. in a facsimile mailbox
    • H04N1/32438Informing the addressee of reception
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N1/32101Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title
    • H04N1/32106Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title separate from the image data, e.g. in a different computer file
    • H04N1/32112Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title separate from the image data, e.g. in a different computer file in a separate computer file, document page or paper sheet, e.g. a fax cover sheet
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N2201/00Indexing scheme relating to scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, and to details thereof
    • H04N2201/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N2201/3201Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title
    • H04N2201/3212Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a job, e.g. communication, capture or filing of an image
    • H04N2201/3222Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a job, e.g. communication, capture or filing of an image of processing required or performed, e.g. forwarding, urgent or confidential handling
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N2201/00Indexing scheme relating to scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, and to details thereof
    • H04N2201/32Circuits or arrangements for control or supervision between transmitter and receiver or between image input and image output device
    • H04N2201/3201Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title
    • H04N2201/3278Transmission

Abstract

A method for transmitting a fax communication, comprising the steps of accessing a fax mostly common carrier fax network by a fax transmitter (10A) using a 0+ dialling pattern, sending a code along with a fax transmission over the fax network (16A, 16B) to indicate a given service to be performed by the network provider in addition to transmitting the fax transmission to a destination fax number, receiving the code by the network provider and performing a given service in response to the received code and transmitting the fax transmission to the destination fax number.

Description

METHOD FOR TRANSMITTING A FAX COMMUNICATION BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a common

carrier communications network that is designed expressly for fax communication and enhanced fax services associated with the network.

Currently, phone companies do not distinguish between phone lines which are connected to a conventional voice telephone and phone lines which are connected solely to a fax machine or a fax modem in a computer.

Existing telephone networks presume that a standard telephone device is hooked up to the phone line. Most phone companies offer a variety of enhanced voice

services, such as voice mail, call waiting, and so forth. In addition, phone companies use the 0+ dialing pattern to make credit card or collect calls or to reach an operator. The universal acceptance of the 0+ dialing pattern in the

United States for calls requiring special handling makes

it easy to understand and simple to use.

The 0+ dialing pattern, however, has been implemented solely with voice users in mind, not fax users. Most fax machines, including PCs with fax modems, do not have voice capability and cannot interact with live operators or voice response systems . The present invention concerns a telephone network where the user is assumed to be a fax machine or a fax modem and where the

0+ dialing pattern is used to request special on-network fax services or special handling of a fax.

Enhanced fax services, such as broadcast fax, fax mailboxes, etc., are available today only from service bureaus . These service bureaus are not part of the phone

network and provide no transport or on-network services . They simply provide off-network services in the same sense that a direct mail house does not actually transport letters or parcels. To continue the analogy to the U.S. Post Office, only the Post Office or a comparable carrier can offer specialized delivery options, such as Registered Mail, Certified Mail, Express Delivery, and so forth. A service bureau, such as a bulk mail house, can only

operate within the constraints of the delivery options provided by the Post Office.

In the enhanced fax marketplace, service bureaus are restricted in the type of products and services they

can offer by the capabilities of the underlying public telephone networks which are used for delivery. The

present invention greatly expands the possible range of enhanced fax service offerings by providing an underlying telephone network which is designed with fax, rather than voice, in mind.

For example, to send a broadcast fax today, many people would use the distribution list capabilities built into most office fax machines. Once the list is entered into the fax machine, the fax machine sequentially dials

each number on the list. It would be much faster and less expensive if the underlying phone network itself understood the concept of a distribution list and the fax could simply be sent once and the network took care of the distribution.

In general, on-network services, meaning services that are integral to the normal processing of a phone call, are easier to use and understand than services which are provided on a service bureau basis. In

addition, on-network services are procured from the same

phone company that processes a customer's regular calls, so charges for both regular calls and enhanced services appear on one bill. Furthermore, some new services including those embodied in the present invention can only

be provided as on-network services.

Today, users can select which long distance company they wish to use and users have grown accustomed to switching among long distance carriers. Soon, consumers will also be able to chose among local carriers as well. The present invention is predicated on the customer's

ability to switch the selected carrier on their fax phone line to a carrier whose transmission technology and enhanced service features are specifically designed to support the fax customer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The main object of the present invention is to improve fax transmission from a sender to a receiver.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a common carrier communications network designed for fax users with built-in fax capabilities. This network offers the customer both regular phone calls and enhanced fax services.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide enhanced services for the fax transmitter based upon the dialing of a 0+ dialing pattern and/or a 1+ dialing pattern to identify the kind of enhanced fax service required.

Yet another object of the present invention is

to reduce the cost of transmitting faxes over long distances by converting the fax machine's modulated audio signal into a compressed and encrypted digital signal before transmission. This process allows the fax to travel over digital networks, such as the Internet, frame

relay, ATM, and other types of digital networks, rather than the more expensive public telephone voice networks.

The 0+ dialing pattern normally associated with operator assisted services is advantageously used for fax transmissions which require special handling, such as "confidential fax" transmissions, "secure fax" transmissions, "Receipt Requested fax" transmissions, broadcast fax transmissions, etc.

The bundling of 0+ services with standard In- dialing, local services (where permitted by regulation) , and other special network capabilities creates a total telecommunications service for the fax user, offering a

variety of innovative value-added services and standard transmission services, all on one bill and from one vendor .

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention are achieved in accordance with the present invention by a method for transmitting a fax communication comprising the steps of accessing a "mostly fax" common carrier network by a fax transmitter, dialing

the recipient's phone number preceded by "0", writing the name of the desired service on the fax cover page, and sending the fax.

An embodiment of the present invention provides a fax broadcast service that allows the user to send a fax to a list of recipients by faxing the document to a specially assigned 700 area code phone number. A user who

wishes to send the same fax to two or more recipients simply puts the recipients' names and fax numbers on the cover page, writes "Broadcast" on the cover page, and

sends the fax to a toll-free phone number for the network

provider. The network provider then distributes the fax to each recipient and faxes back to the sender a specially assigned 700 area code number (e.g., 700-xxx-xxxx) which uniquely identifies that list of users for future use. Any fax sent to this 700 number in the future will automatically be broadcast to the entire list. Any other subscriber to the network provider can send faxes to this 700 number. Furthermore, even subscribers to other network providers can use these lists by prefacing the

call with a special 5 digit carrier identification code (CIC) , described below.

A further embodiment of the present invention provides a way for fax users to obtain a degree of

security when using fax communications. The first method, called "Confidential Fax," stores a fax on the network until the recipient is ready to receive it, thus eliminating the problem of faxes lying around in a shared fax machine where others might read them. To send a Confidential Fax, the sender writes the word

"CONFIDENTIAL" on the fax cover page and dials the recipient's phone number, preceded by a "0". The

recipient gets a one-page fax page with instructions for retrieving the confidential fax from the network. Typical instructions might read: "You have a Confidential Fax from [name of sender] . When you are ready to receive it, call 1-800-xxx-xxxx and key in the following PIN: xxxx. Your Confidential Fax will be delivered immediately."

Another form of the Confidential Fax is called "Secure" fax. The sender writes "Secure" on the cover page, and sends it 0+ the phone number. The sender and the recipient must agree ahead of time on a secret password. The notice which the recipient receives might say: "You have a Secure fax from [name of sender] . To receive it, dial 1-800-xxx-xxxx and key in your secret password. "

Yet another form of Confidential Fax is called "Receipt Requested" fax. This form delivers a bar-coded

signature page to the recipient with instructions that would read: "You have a Receipt Requested Fax from [name of sender] . To receive your fax, please acknowledge receipt of this notice by signing below. Fax this page to 1-800-xxx-xxxx and your Receipt Requested fax will be delivered immediately." As soon as the signature page is received, the bar code is read electronically and the

system checks to be sure that a signature appears on the signature line. Then the fax is delivered to the recipient's fax machine. This service is intended to compete with other "return receipt requested" message delivery services.

In accordance with the present invention, this network uses specially equipped telephone switches (the

"Fax Network Switches") to provide both regular fax phone calls and a variety of on-network enhanced fax services. This complete suite of telecommunications offerings for the fax user is bundled into one comprehensive service and billed either directly or on the customer's local phone

bill.

In a normal telephone network, if one dials 0+ the phone number, one gets a credit card "bong" or an operator. In accordance with the present invention, the

0+ dialing pattern can be used to 1) specify a requested on-network service using extra digits dialed after the "bong" tone, 2) specify a requested on-network service by writing the name of the service on the fax cover page, or 3) making a credit card call.

When a fax is sent using the 0+ dialing pattern, a "bong" tone is issued by the Fax Network Switch. If no additional digits are collected within a few seconds, the Fax Network Switch receives and stores the fax and

displays the cover page of the fax on an operator's

screen. The operator can then read instructions from the sender concerning special handling or services. For example, if a sender wishes to send a Confidential Fax, the sender writes the word "Confidential" on the cover

page and dials the recipient's phone number preceded by a 0. In the future, it is also be possible to use optical character recognition to read the customer's instructions. Alternatively, the cover page can contain an optically readable code which indicates the type of special service requested.

Another method of specifying which special service is requested requires entering additional digits after the "bong" tone. The user dials 0+ the destination phone number. The Fax Network Switch, upon receiving this

call, issues a "bong" tone indicating that it is ready to receive extra digits. The sender then keys in one or more extra digits to specify which of several special services

is requested. The number of the requested service would be at most two digits long. If the Fax Network Switch

receives on one or two digits, possibly terminated with the # or * keys, it recognizes this input as a special service request as opposed to a credit card number. If the Fax Network Switch detects a number of digits

appropriate for a credit card, it processes the extra digits as a credit card call.

Fax machines and fax modems which are not equipped with handsets or speakers can still use the "bong tone" approach by dialing the called number, waiting a few seconds during which the bong tone is issued, then continuing to dial the extra digit (s). Most fax machines and PC fax software have the capability to enter digits, then a pause, then additional digits. The pause must be long enough for the Fax Network Switch to answer, issue the "bong tone" and prepare to receive the extra digit (s) .

The present invention also provides another novel on-network service called "Send and Forget." This service is essentially a never-busy service for outbound

faxes. The sender will never encounter a busy signal when sending a fax. According to the present invention, there are two methods to accomplish "Send and Forget" service .

The first method utilizes Signaling System 7, or "SS7," to determine the status of the called party's line before actually initiating a phone call. SS7 is part of the public telephone network and is used by the switches on the public telephone to determine the status of a called line and to set up routing for a telephone call . By using SS7, the Fax Network Switch can determine that called number is busy and, if the line is busy, the Fax Network Switch receives and stores the sender's fax. The

Fax Network Switch uses SS7 to monitor the status of the called line. As soon as the called line is free, the fax is delivered by the Fax Network Switch. The second method does not require SS7. Rather, the Fax Network Switch "listens" to the progress of each dialed call. If the Fax Network Switch hears a busy signal, it immediately diverts the call to the Fax Network Switch's server which receives and stores the sender's fax. The Fax Network Switch then repeatedly attempts to complete the call until the called line is no longer busy and the fax is

transmitted successfully. If a fax cannot be completed in a reasonable time period, a failure notice is returned to the sender.

To subscribe to the Fax Network, the user must request a change of carrier from their local phone

company. Under current FCC rules, each subscriber to a local phone company can select a "Preferred Interexchange Carrier," or "PIC". All long distance calls made from that subscriber' s phone are then automatically routed to the PIC for call completion. To subscribe to the Fax

Network as described in this invention, the local customer must "PIC" the Fax Network as the preferred carrier.

However, any phone line can access the Fax Network on a call-by-call basis. Each interexchange

carrier is assigned a special five to seven digit Carrier Identification Code ("CIC"), for example, "10ATT", which can be used as a prefix to a dialed call thus allowing the sender to specify which long distance carrier he or she wishes to use for that specific call. The use of a CIC supersedes the customers PIC selection. By using the CIC for the Fax Network, anyone can use the Fax Network

services on a call-by-call basis, regardless of whether they are a subscriber. For example, the user who wished to send a Confidential Fax over the Fax Network would dial CCCCC+O+xxx-xxx-xxxx, where CCCCC is the Fax Network CIC.

A fax network in accordance with the present invention need not be limited exclusively to fax

transmissions. Even for the 0+ service, the Fax Network

Switch can detect the difference between a voice call and a fax call and direct the call to either voice or fax

services appropriately. This is accomplished by the Fax Network Switch detecting the CNG tone - a beeping sound which is transmitted by all fax machines immediately after

dialing.

These and other features of the present invention will become more apparent from the detailed description of the invention with reference to the attached drawings, wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of the system for carrying out the methods according to the present invent ion ;

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of each Fax Network Switch of Fig. 1;

Figs. 3 - 11 are flow charts of various embodiments of the methods according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to Fig. 1, a system according to the present invention is shown wherein numerous fax sending and receiving sites are able to communicate.

Fax transmitter/receiver 10A can be a standard fax machine or a computer operated fax modem and is

connected via conventional telephone lines to an end

office 11A which is connected via the telephone network to Fax Network Switch 16A. The Fax Network Switch 16A has the ability to communicate via a digital network 20 with another Fax Network Switch 16B, or via the relay net 12

with Fax Network Switch 16B, which in turn is connected to an end office 11B which communicates with a fax

transmitter/receiver 10B. Alternatively, the Fax Network Switch 16A is connected via the relay net 12 to an end office 11C which is connected via the local telephone lines to a fax transmitter/receiver IOC.

In the conventional method for sending a telephonic fax transmission, the fax transmitter 10A converts digital data to analog voice data which can be sent over the standard telephone lines to the end office

11A, which then transmits the data via relay net 12 to end office 11B or end office 11C which connects to fax receivers 10B or IOC. The fax receiver receives the telephonic fax transmission and converts it back to

digital data which can be used for displaying the fax transmission image.

However, Fax Network Switch 16A, when transmitting data via the digital network 20, converts the telephonic fax transmission into purely digital data, which is then transmitted over the network 20 to Fax Network Switch 16B, which can then convert the information to a telephonic fax transmission, which can be sent to the end office 11B for reception by the fax receiver 10B. The digital network can be the Internet or other network. In

that way, messages can be supplied to a Fax Network Switch as E-mail from a computer and converted into a fax transmission. Similarly, a fax transmission can be

converted to E-mail by the Fax Network Switch and sent to a computer via the digital network.

Fig. 2 shows the structure of each Fax Network Switch according to the present invention.

Each switch includes a bus 32 to which is connected a network I/O 28 which communicates with the

digital network 20. Also connected to the bus is a conventional telephone switch 31 which is connected to incoming phone lines from end offices and outgoing trunks connected to the relay net .

Also connected to the bus is microprocessor 21 for controlling the operations of the components 22-31. Associated with the microprocessor and connected to the bus is a memory 22, a compression/expansion circuit 23, an encryption/decryption circuit 24 and an optical character

recognition and bar code reading circuit 25. A called number detection circuit 29, which determines which keys are depressed, and a call-progress monitor circuit 27 are also connected to the bus. The Fax Network Switch also includes a human operator interface 26. Fax modem 30 converts fax transmissions to digital data and digital data to fax transmissions.

The compression/expansion circuit 23 takes the purely digital data from the fax modem 30 and compresses

it or takes the purely digital data before it goes to the fax modem and expands it under the control of a microprocessor, so that it can be converted into

telephonic fax transmission. The call progress monitoring circuit can listen to the ringing pattern of a call to

determine if a line is busy or not answered. Memory 22 can be a random access semiconductor memory, a writable CD ROM or digital tape memory and stores fax transmission data for later use under the control of the microprocessor 21.

Referring to Fig. 3, a process according to the present invention is shown wherein a fax is sent from a sender to a receiver using the Fax Network Switch.

A subscriber at 101 is automatically routed by

an end office to the Fax Network Switch because the local phone company has been told that operator of the Fax

Network Switch is the subscriber's Preferred Interexchange Carrier (PIC) . Selecting a PIC is a standard telephone industry procedure which allows customers to select their

preferred long distance carrier. Once selected, the PIC becomes the default long distance carrier, so any long distance calls are automatically routed to it at 102.

A non-subscriber at 100 can access the Enhanced Fax Network on a call-by-call basis by dialing the PIC's

Carrier Identification Code (CIC) prior to desired the phone number. The local phone company end office

recognizes the CIC and delivers the call to the Fax Network Switch at 102.

The Fax Network Switch reads the dialed digits

and determines if the first dialed digit is a "1" or a "0" at 103. If the first dialed digit is a "0", the Fax Network Switch knows that the call will require some form of special service, as will be discussed with respect to Fig. 4.

If the first dialed digit is a "1", then the Fax Network Switch attempts to complete the call. If the called number is busy at 104, then the Fax Network Switch receives and stores the fax at 106 and keeps trying to

deliver the fax until the line is no longer busy. After a predetermined schedule of attempts, this process times out and a delivery failure notice at 107 is returned to the sender.

If the called line is not busy, the Fax Network Switch hands the call off at 105 to the Interexchange Carrier (IXC) that can complete the call for the lowest cost. The IXC routes the call to its destination and the call is completed at 108.

The duration of the call and other details are recorded for billing and customer information purposes.

Determining if the called line is busy in

accordance with the method described in Fig. 3 can be accomplished using either of two methods:

The Fax Network Switch issues an SS7 query to determine the status of the called line - a standard procedure for carriers, or

Alternatively, in accordance with Fig. 2, the progress of each call is monitored using commonly available digital signal processing equipment which can detect the sound of a busy signal. The first method utilizes Signaling System 7, or

"SS7," to determine the status of the called party's line before actually initiating a phone call. SS7 is part of the public telephone network and is used by switches in the public telephone system to determine the status of a

called line and to set up routing for a telephone call. By using SS7, the Fax Network Switch can determine that called number is busy and, if the line is busy, the Fax

Network Switch receives and stores the sender's fax. The Fax Network Switch uses SS7 to monitor the status of the called line. As soon as the called line is free, the fax is delivered by the Fax Network Switch.

With respect to the second method and

referencing Fig. 2, incoming calls 112 are switched by the Fax Network Switch 110 to the outgoing trunks 111 for call

completion. The Fax Network Switch also connects each new

call to the call progress monitor circuit 27 which listens

for a busy signal. If the called line is not busy and answers the call, the call progress monitor immediately

disconnects from the call so that it is free to monitor the progress of the next call. If the called line is busy, the Fax Network Switch diverts the call to fax modem 30 which digitizes it and memory 22 which stores the digitized fax.

Fig. 4 describes the process for processing a call wherein the first dialed digit is a "0" . When all

the digits of the called phone number have been keyed in by the sender, the Fax Network Switch issues a "Bong" tone

at 130. The Fax Network Switch then waits to see if the sender enters additional digits at 131. If no extra digits are received within a few seconds, or if the sending fax machine's CNG tone is detected indicating that the sender has finished dialing and wishes to commence fax transmission at 132, the Fax Network Switch receives and stores the fax at 134 and the cover page of the fax is then displayed on a human operator interface screen at 135. The human operator reads the name of the desired service at 136 and strikes a key on an operator's console corresponding to the service desired. The fax will then

be further processed as described hereinafter. If additional digits are received, and if the number of

digits received is a small number which is determined at

133, thus indicating that the additional digits are meant to signify a special service request rather than a credit

card call which requires at least 10 digits, then the fax is received and stored at 137. The extra digits are compared with a look-up table in memory at 138 to determine the type of service requested. The fax will then be further processed as described hereinafter.

In accordance with Fig. 5, if the number of additional digits collected at 131 indicates that a

calling card number is being keyed in by the sender, then

a calling card authorization process 139 is initiated and the call is transferred to an IXC for call completion at 140.

Fig. 6 describes the process for completing a "Confidential" fax. If the human operator at 136 reads

the word "Confidential" on the cover page or the extra digits collected at 131 indicate that the sender's fax is to be sent using "Confidential" service, then the Fax Network Switch generates a cover page at 210 which is sent

to the recipient . This cover page informs the recipient

that a Confidential fax from the sender is awaiting delivery and instructs the recipient to call a special toll-free voice number and key in a document identification number. The recipient, at his or her

convenience, calls the designated toll-free number and, at the voice prompt, keys in the document identification number at 211. The Fax Network Switch then immediately commences transmission of the fax at 212. After the fax

has been successfully transmitted, the Fax Network Switch generates a confirmation report at 213 which is faxed back

to the sender.

Fig. 7 describes the process for completing a "Secure" fax. If the human operator in 136 reads the word

"Secure" on the cover page or if the extra digits collected at 131 indicate that the sender's fax is to be

sent using "Secure" service, then the Fax Network Switch generates a cover page at 220 which is sent to the

recipient and which includes a document identification

number. This cover page informs the recipient that a Secure fax from the sender is awaiting delivery and

instructs the recipient to call a special toll-free voice number and key in the document identification number plus a password which is agreed upon with the sender in

advance. The recipient, at his convenience, calls the designated toll-free number and, at the voice prompt, keys in the document identification number and password at 221. The Fax Network Switch then verifies the password at 222

immediately commences transmission of the fax at 223.

After the fax has been successfully transmitted, the Fax Network Switch generates a confirmation report at 224

which is faxed back to the sender. If the password is invalid, the voice response system will so inform the

caller at 225.

Fig. 8 describes the process for completing a "Certified" fax. If the human operator at 136 reads the word "Certified" on the cover page or if the extra digits collected at 131 indicate that the sender's fax is to be sent using "Certified" service, then the Fax Network

Switch generates a signature page at 230 which is sent to the recipient which includes a special optically readable bar code which will be later used to automatically identify the returned signature page. This signature page informs the recipient that a Certified fax from the sender is awaiting delivery and instructs the recipient to sign the signature page and fax it back to a special toll-free

number. The recipient, at his or her convenience, signs the signature page and faxes it back to the designated toll-free number at 231. The Fax Network Switch then reads the bar code at 232 and checks to see that a signature has been entered at the appropriate place on the

form at 233. If a signature is detected, the Fax Network

Switch immediately commences transmission of the fax at 235. After the fax has been successfully transmitted, the Fax Network Switch generates a copy of the signature page which is faxed back to the sender at 236. If no signature

is detected, the Fax Network Switch sends a fax to the recipient explaining that a signature was not detected and to fax the signature page again at 234.

Fig. 9 describes the process for completing a "Broadcast" fax. If the human operator at 136 reads the word "Broadcast" on the cover page or if the extra digits collected at 131 indicate that the sender's fax is to be sent using "Broadcast" service, then the Fax Network

Switch causes the sender's cover page to appear on a human operator's screen. The human operator then transcribes

the list of intended recipients in his or her computer at 241. The operator may use OCR circuit 25 to assist in this process. The fax is then transmitted to each of the recipients on the list. Then the Fax Network Switch

generates a unique 700-xxx-xxxx phone number at 243 which is faxed back to the sender, along with a confirmation report indicating the success or failure of each fax in the broadcast list at 244. Subsequently, as shown in Fig. 10, faxes may be sent directly to a list of recipients by sending the fax to the 700-xxx-xxxx number

generated above at 243. The sender simply dials the 700- xxx-xxxx number at 261 and the Fax Network Switch looks up the list associated with that number and transmits the fax

to each recipient on the list at 262. The Fax Network Switch generates a confirmation report at 263.

The present invention also provides for other

methods of building and maintaining the list of recipients associated with each 700 -xxx-xxxx number. As shown in

Fig. 11, e-mail messages can be used to build or replace a distribution list. In accordance with the present

invention, the user prepares a list of recipient's and their corresponding fax numbers and sends this list to the

Fax Network Switch via e-mail at 251. If the subject line is left blank at 252, the Fax Network Switch builds a new list from the attached names and numbers, generates a new 700-xxx-xxxx number which is returned to the sender by e- mail at 253. If an existing 700-xxx-xxxx number is

entered in the subject line, then the Fax Network Switch replaces the list that was formerly associated with this number with the new list at 254. A confirmation of the change in the list is sent to the sender via e-mail at 255. In this manner, users can maintain lists using database tools or other special programs available on

their PCs.

It is understood that the embodiments described hereinabove are merely illustrative and are not intended

to limit the scope of the invention. It is realized that

various changes, alterations, rearrangements and

modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without substantially departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Claims

What is claimed is:
1. A method for transmitting a fax communication, comprising the steps of:
accessing a fax mostly common carrier fax network by a fax transmitter;
sending a code along with a fax transmission
over the fax network to a network provider of the fax
network to indicate a given service to be performed by the network provider in addition to transmitting the fax transmission to a destination fax number;
receiving the code by the network provider; and
performing the given service in response to the received code and transmitting the fax transmission to the destination fax number.
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the fax transmitter is a subscriber of the fax network provider and wherein the step of accessing comprises
dialing 0+ the destination fax number.
3. The method according to claim 1, wherein
the step of accessing comprises dialing 1+ or 0+ the destination fax number.
4. The method according to claim 1, wherein the step of accessing comprises dialing a common carrier access code and the destination fax number.
5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the step of sending the code comprises attaching a cover sheet to the fax transmission and including an indication of the given service on the cover sheet .
6. The method according to claim 1, wherein the step of sending the code comprises dialing a code after the destination fax number.
7. The method according to claim 1, wherein the fax network is a digital communications network in addition to a telephone network.
8. The method according to claim 1, wherein the step of accessing comprises receiving a call at a first local exchange carrier from the fax transmitter for
sending the fax communication and routing the call to a
first fax network switch of the network provider.
9. The method according to claim 1, wherein the step of transmitting comprises converting the fax communication to solely digital data at a first fax
network switch, transmitting the digital data over the
network.
10. The method according to claim 1, wherein the given service is a confidential fax service wherein a notice is sent to a fax recipient including a toll-free telephone number and a pin number and wherein the fax transmission is sent to the fax recipient only after a call is received at the toll-free number and the pin number is given.
11. The method according to claim 1, wherein
the given service is a certified fax service wherein a signature page is sent to a fax recipient including a fax back telephone number and wherein the fax transmission is sent to the fax recipient only after a fax of the signed signature page is received at the fax back number.
12. The method according to claim 1, wherein
the given service is a fax broadcast service wherein a fax transmission is sent to a plurality of fax destinations.
13. The method according to claim 12, wherein
the step of accessing comprises dialing a 700 number having a list of fax destination numbers associated
therewith.
14. The method according to claim 1, wherein the given service is a secure fax service wherein a sender
and recipient agree on a password, a notice is sent to the recipient including a toll-free number and pin number, and
wherein the fax transmission is sent to the recipient only after a call is received at the toll-free number and the pin number and password is given.
15. The method according to claim 1, wherein the service is a never busy fax line and wherein the fax network determines if the destination number is busy and stores the fax for later transmission according to a retry schedule .
16. The method according to claim 15, wherein the fax network determines if the destination line is busy using SS7.
PCT/US1997/017466 1996-10-30 1997-09-30 Method for transmitting a fax communication WO1998019446A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US73957496 true 1996-10-30 1996-10-30
US08/739,574 1996-10-30

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1998019446A1 true true WO1998019446A1 (en) 1998-05-07

Family

ID=24972928

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US1997/017466 WO1998019446A1 (en) 1996-10-30 1997-09-30 Method for transmitting a fax communication

Country Status (1)

Country Link
WO (1) WO1998019446A1 (en)

Citations (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4941170A (en) * 1989-03-20 1990-07-10 Tandem Computers Incorporated Facsimile transmissions system
US4994926A (en) * 1988-09-22 1991-02-19 F-Mail Associates, L.P. Facsimile telecommunications system and method
US5014300A (en) * 1988-08-05 1991-05-07 Atlas Telecom, Inc. Method and apparatus for accessing a facsimile store and forward network
US5018191A (en) * 1989-10-23 1991-05-21 At&T Bell Laboratories Special service call routing
US5257112A (en) * 1991-08-14 1993-10-26 Fujitsu Limited Facsimile mail system with mail center equipment
US5497411A (en) * 1994-03-14 1996-03-05 Pellerin; Joseph C. E. Telecommunications card-access system
US5544255A (en) * 1994-08-31 1996-08-06 Peripheral Vision Limited Method and system for the capture, storage, transport and authentication of handwritten signatures

Patent Citations (9)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5014300A (en) * 1988-08-05 1991-05-07 Atlas Telecom, Inc. Method and apparatus for accessing a facsimile store and forward network
US4994926A (en) * 1988-09-22 1991-02-19 F-Mail Associates, L.P. Facsimile telecommunications system and method
US4994926B1 (en) * 1988-09-22 1998-08-18 Audiofax Ip L L C Fascimilie telecommunications system and method
US4994926C1 (en) * 1988-09-22 2001-07-03 Audiofax Ip L L C Facsimile telecommunications system and method
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