WO1999046904A1 - Improved realtime internet functions by use of a hybrid pstn and ip protocol means - Google Patents

Improved realtime internet functions by use of a hybrid pstn and ip protocol means Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1999046904A1
WO1999046904A1 PCT/AU1999/000155 AU9900155W WO9946904A1 WO 1999046904 A1 WO1999046904 A1 WO 1999046904A1 AU 9900155 W AU9900155 W AU 9900155W WO 9946904 A1 WO9946904 A1 WO 9946904A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
means
telephone
part
information
carrier
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Application number
PCT/AU1999/000155
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French (fr)
Inventor
John Griffits
Original Assignee
John Griffits
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Publication date
Priority to AUPP2288 priority Critical
Priority to AUPP2288A priority patent/AUPP228898A0/en
Priority to AUPP2368 priority
Priority to AUPP2368A priority patent/AUPP236898A0/en
Application filed by John Griffits filed Critical John Griffits
Priority claimed from AU29127/99A external-priority patent/AU2912799A/en
Publication of WO1999046904A1 publication Critical patent/WO1999046904A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1013Network architectures, gateways, control or user entities
    • H04L65/102Gateways
    • H04L65/1033Signalling gateways
    • H04L65/104Signalling gateways in the network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/54Store-and-forward switching systems
    • H04L12/56Packet switching systems
    • H04L12/5691Access to open networks; Ingress point selection, e.g. ISP selection
    • H04L12/5692Selection among different networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L29/00Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00
    • H04L29/02Communication control; Communication processing
    • H04L29/06Communication control; Communication processing characterised by a protocol
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1013Network architectures, gateways, control or user entities
    • H04L65/102Gateways
    • H04L65/1023Media gateways
    • H04L65/103Media gateways in the network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1066Session control
    • H04L65/1069Setup
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/10Signalling, control or architecture
    • H04L65/1066Session control
    • H04L65/1083In-session procedures
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/80QoS aspects
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/0024Services and arrangements where telephone services are combined with data services
    • H04M7/0057Services where the data services network provides a telephone service in addition or as an alternative, e.g. for backup purposes, to the telephone service provided by the telephone services network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/06Interconnection arrangements between switching centres using auxiliary connections for control or supervision, e.g. where the auxiliary connection is a signalling system number 7 link
    • H04M7/063Interconnection arrangements between switching centres using auxiliary connections for control or supervision, e.g. where the auxiliary connection is a signalling system number 7 link where the telephone network is a network other than PSTN/ISDN
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L29/00Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00
    • H04L29/02Communication control; Communication processing
    • H04L29/06Communication control; Communication processing characterised by a protocol
    • H04L29/0602Protocols characterised by their application
    • H04L29/06027Protocols for multimedia communication

Abstract

The invention describes a means to overcome the limitations placed on Internet telephony because of the inherent loss and/or delay in the transfer of IP packets. It achieves this by hybridizing the transfer of voice information, such that part of the data constituting a telephone call (that may include control information) is sent via the Internet (22) and part via a direct route (12, 14, 16), preferably the Public Switched Telephone Network. In a hybridized arrangement for telephony the invention also allows that the carrier for the PSTN component of the link may vary depending on the competitiveness of the carrier. As such a means is described to auto select carrier. Said means includes the selection of said carrier on the basis of price from a database that includes tariffs from multiple carriers. The invention further allows that the auto select means may be adapted for use by telephony using conventional, non-Internet means. A method for auto selecting long distance carriers for use with conventional telephones is described. Several novel features for said conventional telephones are also described.

Description

THIS: Improved Realtime Internet Functions by use of a hybrid PSTN and IP Protocol Means.

Definitions:

1) Internet Voice Packet (IVP) is an IP packet transmitted via the Internet that includes, in part at least, information that may be used to transmit and/or receive realtime voice information (eg. as may be used in Internet Telephone Systems). The Internet voice packet may include information from one or multiple users. When information is included from multiple parties it may include information relating to multiple discrete conversations and/or conference conversations (eg. multiple users may have their voice input multiplexed as is know to the art of telephone conferencing) and/or any other voice input. The invention allows that part at least of the means described for IVPs may be applied to other time critical Internet data (non-limiting examples including video conferencing and/or multi-player games.

2) Local to the customers premises, may include, in part at least, any means on the customers side of a customer coupling point to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), wherein, said coupling point connects customer equipment to the public switched network.

Said coupling point may include: one or multiple wall sockets that telephones (and/or modems) connect with; and/or one or multiple means interfacing a PABX (and/or any other customer switchboard means) to the public switched telephone network; and/or any other means that couples any communications means, in part at least, that may output information to, and/or receive information from the public switched telephone network, wherein, said any communications means is physically located within and/or adjacent to the customers premises. The invention allows that the telephone line coupling the customer with the exchange may be intercepted on the exchange side of said customer coupling point and part at least of the invention installed on the PSTN distal to the customer.

Said coupling point may couple the customer equipment to one or multiple remote telephone exchanges using any means, that may include electrical conductors, and/or optical fiber, and/or microwave link.

Said any means on the customers side may include: one or multiple telephones (and/or any other communications means, eg a modem); and/or one at least PABX (and/or any equivalent customer exchange means) ; and/or one at least computers and/or multimedia devices and/or any other User Controlled Data Processing System that in part at least, performs and/or is coupled to telephone functions and includes, in part at least, the means of the invention.

3)The Customer may include (non-exclusively) the owner or leasee of communications equipment (including telephones and private switchboards) and/or any agents (eg. employees, family members, friends) operating said equipment.

4) Pre-selected Carrier is a term that may be used to refer to one or multiple carriers that are automatically selected by one at least means, that is not local to the customers premises. This is preferably as a result of the customer selecting a preferred carrier and having one or multiple telephone exchanges route their long distance traffic via this carrier, without the need for the customer to include additional codes in the dialing process.

5) Dialing information refers to any information, in part at least, that is required to initiate a call with a remote party. It may include tone and/or pulse information generated by a dial means, and/or keypad means and/or any other means. The information may be generated and/or received by any modem means.

6) Coupled to one at least telephones preferably includes one or multiple means integrated into one or multiple telephones at one at least customer's premises. Those experienced in the art will appreciate that part at least of the means included within a telephone may be replicated in external attachments. For example a keyboard means, and or microphone means, and/or speaker means, and/or display means, and/or processing means, and/or storage means may be constructed as external attachments rather than (or conjunctive with) their inclusion within a telephone. As such, coupled to one at least telephones may be interpreted, in part at least, as referring to any means that attaches directly to the telephone and/or indirectly (eg. plugs into a directly coupled means) to the telephone. Furthermore, a means may be constructed by those experienced in the art that intercepts, in part at least, information in transit between telephone and coupling point to the public switched telephone network and/or a PABX means. This information may be used and/or modified to emulate, part at least, of the invention. As such, coupled to one at least telephone may indicate, in part at least, any means coupled, in part at least, between one at least, telephones and: a PABX (or similar) and/or a coupling point to the PSTN. Those experienced in the art may also construct, part at least, of the invention within (and/or coupled to) one or multiple PABX means (and/or equivalent) and/or between said PABX and the coupling point to the PSTN. As such, coupled to one at least telephone may indicate, in part at least, a means within (and/or coupled to) a PABX means, and/or between said PABX and a coupling point to the PSTN.

The invention also allows for part at least, of the invention to be inserted into the telephone line after the customer's coupling point to the PSTN, particularly when said inserted is in the vicinity (and/or 3 within) of the customer's premises. As such, coupled to one at least telephone may indicate, in part at least, a means coupled tc the PSTN beyond the customer's point(s) of connection.

The invention is particularly applicable to telephone means that are not part of the mobile telephone network, wherein said telephone means may be reliant on a cable (electrical and/or optical) for the first part of the connection of the customers premises to the Public Switched Telephone Network. The invention may be applied, in part at least to cordless telephones The invention may be applied, in part at least, to mobile telephones.

Background. The use of the Internet for voice communications may provide users with a low cost alternative to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), particularly for long distance calls. However, the inherent unpredictability with reference to the timing of delivery of IP packets may result in a less than optimal voice channel. The present invention seeks to describe a means wherein the transfer of voice (and/or any other time critical information) may use multiple means, in particular the use of the Internet and Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) to deliver one at least conversations. The invention describes a means wherein time critical information (eg control data, lost or delayed voice packets) are sent via POTS while the balance of the voice information is preferably sent via the Internet (and/or similar). This system may also be applied to other time critical information, non-limiting examples that may include multi-player games and video conferencing.

The invention allows for the connection of a user's computer (and/or any other data processing systems) via a modem (or equivalent) to the Internet (usually to an ISP) at one or both ends of the telephone conversation.

The invention also allows for the use of one at least telephones, at one or both ends of the telephone conversation, wherein, the connection of said telephone(s) to the Internet is performed by a remote party, for example an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The use of the Internet for telephone conversations usually requires some form of compression techniques to reduce the required Internet bandwidth. This may be done, in part at least by compression decompression means at the callers and/or called location; and/or at one or multiple remote locations, for example, one at least ISP's. The invention may be configured for use with any one at least, voice compression means, non-limiting examples of which may include voice compression means used in Rockwell modem chips, Motorola 3 bit and/or 4 bit voice compression chipsets.

The availability of a means to: use the Internet as a conduit of telephone conversations and/or compress voice information and decompress this information as required, provides part of the requirements to the provision of an acceptable Internet telephone service. 4 However, the IP protocol of the Internet creates another impediment to the quality transfer of realtime voice communications via the Internet. IP packets by their nature are not guaranteed to arrive at their target, and may be dropped out, particularly when lines are congested. Furthermore, the sending means may not know, whether a packet has arrived and the receiving means may not know what packets it should expect. Additionally, sent packets may arrive in a different sequence to which they are sent. For many types of data this is not critical as missing packets are eventually retransmitted, however, in the case of voice (and/or other time critical information) missing and/or delayed packets may impair the quality of realtime voice transfers.

The invention seeks to describe a means to overcome, in part at least, the erratic nature of voice communications using the Internet by using a direct form of communication (eg. a telephone line) that has reliable characteristics for the transfer of part of the information, such that the majority of voice information is preferably transferred via the Internet, while, control information may be transferred, in part at least, via said direct means, and/or lost or delayed voice packets transmitted via the Internet may also be resent, in part at least, via said direct means.

The preceding part of the present specification is described under heading: Hybrid Internet Telephone Means.

The use of the POTS for long distance traffic is a competitive area and the most favourable pricing may vary between carriers at different times and/or conditions. The present invention also seeks to describe a means for auto selecting the carrier for any particular call (or part of said call) that uses the POTS as a component of the calling process. Said particular call may include part at least of the means described for Internet telephony in this specification. Said auto-selected carrier is preferably the carrier providing the most competitive rates at the time. Those experienced in the art will appreciate that the means described for selecting for selecting a competitive long distance carrier may also be applied to a telephone means that is not coupled to the Internet. The present specification also describes a means of providing customers with a telephone system connected to POTS that may auto-select the long distance carrier. This is described under the heading telephone auto-select means. Said auto select means may also include a number of other novel features.

The present specification incorporates by reference the inventions described by the present inventor in PCT/AU97/00097 and PCT/AU98/00403. The means described in these specifications may be incorporated, in part at least, into part at least of the present invention.

Preferred Embodiment.

The invention is now described with reference to the drawings.

A) Hybrid Telephone Means. 5

Reference to Figure 1 may assist in understanding the next part of the description. It shows User 1 who wishes to initiate a call with User 6. One at least parties may have devices connected to the Internet (eg. a computer with its IP address connected via a modem). One at least parties may be communicating via a telephone that may not have any direct Internet means. Most User's would usually connect to the main backbone of the Internet via one at least ISP's 3 and/or 5. The coupling means between user 2 and/or 6 with ISP 3 and/or 5, is usually via the public switched telephone network (eg. a twisted pair conductor to the local exchange). As such, there is usually no problem in transferring telephone conversations, in any format, between User and ISP. It is usually only when the voice information is placed onto the Internet (4) that potential problems may arise. The invention provides that the uncertainty of IP packet transfers containing voice information (in part at least), may be alleviated, in part at least, by coupling ISP 3 and ISP 4 with an additional and more direct communications means, preferably one at least normal telephone lines 7, wherein, said direct communications means, may deliver and/or receive data in a reliable manner. The preferred embodiment of the invention preferably attempts to transfers the majority of voice information via the Internet (4). The direct communications means (7) is preferably used, in part at least, to transfer information from the transmitting means of an Internet Voice Packet (IVP) to the receiving means, providing one at least details about Internet Voice Packets that said receiving means should have received and/or expect to receive.

The invention allows that one at least time and/or date means may be coupled to multiple nodes in the Internet (for example ISP's (3) and (5)) wherein, the time and/or date information between two at least said multiple nodes is accurate (or may be calculated) to a predetermined value. Non-limiting examples of said predetermined value may include accurate to a fraction of a second, and/or less than a tenth of a second, and/or less than a hundredth of a second, and/or less than a millisecond, and/or less than 0.1 milliseconds, and/or less than 0.01 milliseconds, and/or less than a microsecond.

The preferred method couples one at least nodes on the Internet (eg ISP (3)) to a crystal controlled time/calendar means, that uses a portable and reliable time/calendar means to set said crystal controlled time/calendar means at multiple nodes, ensuring consistency across nodes.

The invention allows for one at least time based transmitting means that transmits one at least Internet Voice Packets on the Internet (4) and transmits a time of dispatch of said IVP, in part at least along said direct means (7), and said time of dispatch is preferably coupled to a means to identify, in part at least, said one at least IVP.

The invention allows for any means that permits an IVP receiving means, to receive said time of dispatch information from said direct means (7). The invention allows for any means that permits said receiving means to determine that said IVP has not arrived by a predetermined (and/or on any other basis). The invention allows for any means that allows said receiving means to indicate to the 6 transmitting means, preferably using direct means (7) that one at least IVP have not arrived in time. The invention allows for any means that permits said IVP transmitting means to retransmit part at least, of one at least said IVP, wherein, said retransmit, in part at least, uses said direct means (7). The invention allows for any means that permits said IVP receiving means to: receive said retransmitted IVP; and or confirm receipt of the retransmitted information; and/or preferably reject the originally transmitted packet should it eventually arrive.

The invention allows for part at least of the means described for said Time Based Transmitting Means, that in part at least, does not include time of dispatch information. The invention allows for any means that sends control (and/or any other) information via direct means (7) wherein the receiving means of IVP may infer that packets are lost or delayed. The invention particularly allows for IVP receiving means that determine, in part at least, that packets are delayed or lost on the basis of: one at least time intervals between receiving information from one at least IVP transmitting means, via said direct means (7), as to when one at least IVP has been and/or may be sent, and the failure, in part at least, of said voice packets to reach said IVP receiving means.

The invention also allows for any means coupled to the transmitting means of IVP, that may elect to send part at least, of one at least, IVP via direct means (7) instead of Internet means (4).

The invention also allows for any means coupled to the receiving means of IVP that may request said transmitting means to send one at least IVP via said direct means (7), even if said IVP is not lost or delayed, and/or has not yet been transmitted. For example, the receiving means may be able to determine that average packet delay is increasing, and may attempt to preempt a further deterioration.

Those experienced in the art will realise that voice communications is usually bidirectional, and that there will usually be a receiving and transmitting means at either end of the Internet connection (eg (3) and (5)). Although the link between (3) and (5) via (4) is shown with no intervening nodes, in many application there may be multiple intermediate nodes, any one at least of which, may perform, in part at least, the functions of the invention. Furthermore, the number of nodes transited by a particular packet may be different to one at least subsequent packets. Those experienced in the art will also realise that the direct link (7) may also pass via multiple intermediary nodes.

The invention allows for any means of identifying and/or addressing IVP's transmitted via the Internet and/or Direct means. The invention allows for any method of time stamping IVP's.

Rgure 2 details some of the delays that may be encountered in Internet telephone systems. The example shown considers a call between London (10) and Sydney (20), a distance of approximately 7 12,000 miles on a great circle. The invention may be applicable to any distances. The example considers voice data travelling London to Sydney (practical applications usually have a similar process occurring in reverse). The actual route taken may be considerably longer, especially if part of the trip is via satellite. The best case transit time, excluding inter-nodal switching delays and deviations from the shortest route is approximately 65 milliseconds (65 ms). This may be reasonably approximated by a fibreoptic link.

The advantage that a Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) has is that when a connection is established, a nodal route may be pre-determined to connect the signal between parties (eg. 10 and 20). Once this is determined, the transit time between points may be consistent for the duration of the call. Furthermore, voice information sent in either direction is usually certain of being directly transferred from one party to the other, without loss. This voice channel is shown as (12) in Rgure 2. In the example, the minimum delay between London and Sydney is 65 ms (plus practical routing extensions and switching delays). The actual transit time may be reasonably accurately determined by a PING type operation, where data is sent from one party to the other and immediately returned. As the bidirectional path is preferably the same, the unidirectional transit is approximately equal to (total return signal time/2). A more accurate method uses standardized time means, coupled to at least two parties (eg 10 and 20).

In the case of Internet transfers (22), the route taken by each data packet may differ. The transmission time may be variable and packets may not reach their destination. Lost packets may be re-transmitted, however, there is no guarantee that the replacement packet will make it to its target. This makes for a less than optimal outcome for Internet telephony.

One objective of the invention is to provide an improved means of transmitting voice by the Internet alone. A second objective of the invention is to provide a means of utilising the POTS and Internet to improve the art of Internet Telephony.

The invention allows for any Position ID Means that couples one at least IVP with a means to identify to the receiving means the sequential position of a particular IVP in the voice stream. Voice packets may be sent in an ordered manner, however, they may be received out of sequence. One application of said position ID means, may be to assist the receiving means to re-assemble IVP's in the correct sequence.

The invention allows for one at least buffer means to receive IVP information. This may not be a first in first out buffer, as packets may be received in unpredictable order. As packets are received they are preferably placed in the order they were originally transmitted. Some packets may not arrive in time and their slots may be left vacant. To replicate the voice information as far as possible to the receiving party, it is preferable that voice information is presented as a sequential string without interrupts. This is preferably achieved by storing received IVP in a buffer means (24) prior to transferring them to the target party. It is preferable that said buffer stores sufficient information, that once it begins to empty, it may continue to receive IVP's fast enough to maintain a continuous flow. This may be a little difficult 8 given the fact that the buffer may be waiting a considerable time for some packets to arrive. This is particularly the case if a packet is lost and needs to be re-sent. The invention allows for any IVP Packet Delay Determining means, that permits the receiving node to calculate an optimal buffer delay (and/or size), preferably based in part at least, on delays encountered in transferring IVP's. The means may be dynamic, in part at least, adjusting to meet current transmission delays. The invention allows for any means that permits the receiving means to create a cutoff window, such that packets not received within a predetermined interval to that expected, do not delay the delivery of available information to the receiving means. The invention allows for any Deleted Packet Compensation Means, that adjusts received information to compensate, in part at least, for missing information. This may include( as non-limiting examples): sending the information as received and where a packet is missing, it is replaced by one at least defaults (eg. silence); and/or moving packets forwards into unused time slots; and/or applying mathematical algorithms to the available information to fill in the gaps (for example stretching the packets on one or both sides, as known to the art of matching sound with video using digital signal processing); and/or averaging information on either side of the missing packet(s) to calculate replacement information; and/or any other mathematical process.

The invention allows for one at least Packet Redundancy Means, wherein, IVP's may contain, part of the information also present, in part at least, in one at least other IVP's. For example, in a sequence of IVP's identified as IVP.1 , IVP.2, IVP.3, IVP.1 may contain its own information and part of IVP.2 (eg the first 25%); IVP.2 may contain part of IVP.1 and/or IVP.3 (eg. the last 25% of IVP.1 and the first 25% of IVP.3); IVP.3 may contain information pertaining to IVP.2 and/or IVP.4 (not shown). The invention allows that one at least packets may contain, in part at least, redundant information pertaining to any one or multiple other IVP's. One application of the Packet Redundancy Means may be to replace in part at least, IVP's that do not arrive within a predetermined (and/or on any other basis) period of time.

The buffering means is preferably at the location of an ISP (or equivalent), enabling unmodified telephones to call said ISP (or any other means and/or agent) and receive information in a usable sequence. The optimal size of the receive buffer is dependent, in part at least on Internet transfer delays. A large enough buffer may capture all IVP's. It may also have such a long delay that it is not practical as a replacement for the telephone.

The means described for Internet telephony is subject to the variable nature of Internet transfers. The size of the buffer (and hence, the delay in transfer of information to the parties) may be dependent in 9 part at least, on an estimate of Internet delays. It needs to be made sufficiently large to capture enough IVP's to ensure a reasonable quality and continuity of speech. Some packets may not be received.

The invention may also be configured to provide a hybrid telephone means that uses the normal telephone system and the Internet. The Internet is preferably used to transfer the majority of voice information and the greater certainty of information transfer via the telephone system used to narrow and or predetermine the delay introduced by buffer (24); and/or to replace lost and/or delayed packets on a reliable time basis.

Referring to Figure 2, voice information transferred via the 'a' channel (12) would reach its target in approximately 65ms. IVP sent via the Internet (22) have variable transit times. The invention allows for any packet-capture width means that predetermines an acceptable period (that is preferably re- programmable) in which IVP's should arrive. For example only, this may be 100 ms. If a packet is not received within 100 ms of its transmission, the invention may be configured to use the telephone system, in part at least, to rectify the delay. When an IVP is sent, channel 'a' (12) may be used to signal the receiving means that said IVP has been sent. The preferred embodiment of the invention dedicates IP addresses to voice communications. The receiving means is preferably signaled via (12) when IVP's belonging to a particular voice channel are initially transferred. The receiving means preferably may assume that subsequent information will continue to be sent on a regular basis until otherwise instructed. If a packet is not received within the predetermined window (eg. 100ms), the invention allows for any re-send means coupled to the receiving means that sends information frorr; receiving means to transmitting means, via the telephone system (14), requesting delayed or missing packets be resent, preferably via the telephone system (16). This hybrid method of telephony allows an IVP to be provided a predetermined (and/or on any other basis) time y (eg 100 msec) to arrive via the Internet. If this does not occur, the telephone system with preferably known delays, may be used. This adds the delay 'w' to the system while a request (and/or any other information) travels from receiver to transmitter (14) (eg. 65 msec). There is an additional delay V while the requested information transits the telephone link between transmitter and receiver (16). This method allows the Internet to be used for telephone conversations, with a preferably known delay between information being sent and being available for transfer to a customer telephone means = y + w + v. The hybrid means of the invention may be configured to include, in part at least, the means described for a pure Internet telephone. For example redundant information, drop packets and mathematically interpolate etc. The invention allows for any means, that dynamically varies buffer delay depending on measured traffic delays. For example, several IVP's may arrive in best case windows (eg. 65 msec) and a decision may be made to retrieve one at least subsequent packets if they do not arrive in a modifed y window (eg 75 ms). The opposite may also apply, with the window being extended to reduce transfers via the telephone system. The invention allows for one at least User Input Means, wherein, the customer may influence the width of the y and/or one at least other parameters. One application of this means is to permit the user to dynamically adjust the quality of the call (this may be associated with differential cal I rates) . 10

The invention may also be coupled such that a telephone call between two at least parties, is conducted, in part at least, using the Internet for voice communications with a sufficiently large receive buffer and delay implemented to accommodate whatever is an acceptable level of telephony. This mechanism may capture most IVP's, without the need to re-send via the telephone system. However, as the delays may extend into the seconds, the invention allows for the normal telephone system to be used to advise callers when one or the other: has sent and/or is sending and/or has stopped sending information (eg. voice). This may enable a sender of information to know when the other party has received part at least of the conversation and/or when the other party is or has responded. This may provides a means to stop callers talking on top of one another, particularly when there are considerable round trip transmission delays.

The invention allows that part of the means coupling two telephones may use multiple switching nodes and the means linking two at least nodes may use the telephone system or Internet or the hybrid means. Rgure 3 shows one example of a practical embodiment of the invention. For example, a customer (30) may wish to place a call to another party (42). Customer (30) may be connected to a local agent (eg an ISP) (34) via a normal analogue telephone circuit (32). Telephone line (32) may also be digital (eg. an ISDN line). User (32) may be using a normal telephone or a computer/modem means with a voice input and output facility or any other suitable means. The call may then be routed to a regional node (36) (eg Sydney) via a pure Internet connection (35). It is then sent to another regional node (38) (eg San Francisco) via a hybrid telephone/Internet means (37). It may then travel to a local agent (40) via the regional long distance telephone system (39), for receipt by the other party (42) via the local telephone means.

The invention allows that any one or multiple nodes on the link between two customers may dynamically determine the preferred means of communications and one call, in part at least, may use telephone and/or hybrid and/or Internet to transit between any two node. When a call is placed with a local agent (34), said agent preferably may instruct the calling party to choose another means (eg. select a traditional long distance carrier). This may be for any reason, eg. network congestion, inability to connect with target. The invention allows for one at least Inter ISP means, wherein, ISP's may share available bandwidth with one another to facilitate telephone routing.

The invention may be configured such that multiple parties may participate in a conference call. 1 1 The invention is further described with reference to Rgure 4. This shows a block arrangement for the caller 30 to send voice information to recipient 42. They are separated by a network 93 that may include any number of intermediary switching means. In most practical telephone systems, voice information is bidirectional. The functions shown on Caller 30 side of 93 are usually duplicated in part at least on the recipient 42 side of 93 with the reverse also usually applying. For clarity, the receiving and sending means are only depicted at one end. A caller (30) may use a data processing means or telephone or any other appropriate means to connect with an Internet telephone agent (34). The caller may be locally coupled to a directory means (60) that enables them to determine, in part at least, whether agent 34 can connect to a required number. If not (or for any other reason) it may use an alternative means (eg. long distance telephone company).

The call selecting means described for a telephone elsewhere in this specification may be adapted to auto call one at least Internet Telephony means instead of a long distance telephone carrier.

The voice information sent by caller (30) may be an analogue signal if they use a normal telephone handset. The agent 34 may receive this as analogue or if they have a digital connection to the public switched telephone network, it may be a digital representation of an analogue signal. If caller 30 is a data processing means, it may already have converted the voice information into a digital format. The preferred embodiment of the invention receives telephone call information from the user, preferably in uncompressed format and preferably as an analogue signal of the voice information or a digitised version of said analogue information. If the information is supplied as analogue format it may be digitised by A/D means (65). The information is preferably compressed by voice compression means (70) (for live video, this may include image compression means). Part at least of the compressed (and/or uncompressed) voice information is preferably cached (80). One application of this cache may be to re-send voice (and/or any other) information in lost VIP's via direct means (eg. telephone system) (16). The compressed information is preferably converted to an IP packet(s) (75) and may be stamped with time/date information (90). The IP packets may contain data pertinent to multiple telephone calls. One advantage of this may be to reduce packet overheads by bundling more data. Furthermore, it becomes more efficient to send a smaller portion of a conversation in a packet. If such packet is lost or delayed it may have less impact on the perceived quality of the voice transmission. The IVP is preferably output onto the Internet (22) to hopefully arrive at the agent of the recipient. The packet is preferably examined by the receiving control means (95). When packets have not arrived within a determined interval, said control means 95 preferably contacts the sending control means 85 directly (14) and may requests re-sending of voice information, usually via direct means. It may receive resent information, in part at least via the Internet. Control means 95 preferably functions in conjunction with the: time means; and/or lost/delayed packet compensator 100 that may decide to interpolate information (eg. by acting on information within buffer 24) and/or request re-sending of voice information (eg. by its coupling with control means 95) and/or any other means. 12 The voice information is preferably extracted from the IP packet by (110) and decompressed where appropriate by decompression means (115). It is then preferably passed to the appropriate receive voice information buffer and subsequently released to the called party (42). It may be converted to an analogue format by D/A means 120.

A non-limiting means of packeting voice information is now described with reference to Rgure 5. An analogue voice signal (actual analogue or digital representation) 200 is shown. The voice information represents a time span of n seconds. It may be divided into x sub-units. The time width of a sub-unit may be n/x seconds. The flat section of 5,6,7,8 etc may represent silence (eg. the other party may be speaking and/or breaks by the caller). The sub-units may not be of equal time span. The actual width of a sub-unit may be influenced by IP packet overheads. The less information, the greater the proportion contributed by other IP packet information (eg. addresses etc). It is preferable to have small sized sub-units and this may be acceptable by bundling multiple sub-units from different conversations within the one IP packet. The sub-units are preferably converted to digital format 205 and 210. The sub-units are preferably compressed 211 and 206. Because 206 represents silence, (in the example) it may be highly compressed.

IP packets 280 are constructed, that preferably include voice sub-units from multiple conversations eg. 211 , 240, 241 , 242. The packet usually includes the usual IP information 230. The packet is preferably identified by a group ID means 235, wherein, packets of the same group ID, preferably carry sub-units belonging to the same conversation(s). The packet preferably includes a unit ID means 236 to identify which packet in a group it represents. For example IP packets 280 and 290 belong to the same group ID (DD), however, packet 280 has a unit ID of E and packet 290 has a unit ID of E+8. The packet preferably includes one at least, sub-unit indicator means 250 to indicate the size of one or multiple sub-units. Said indicator may use any means eg. bit count, byte count, number of predetermined blocks etc. There is preferably a sub-unit indicator means preceding each sub-unit in the packet. The packet preferably includes CRC checking. If a packet is delayed or lost, the receiving means may issue a group ID and unit ID for the delayed packet and request re-sending of all sub-units or selected sub-units. If sub-units represent variable width time slices, information pertaining to this may be included within the IP packet.

When a new conversation is established the calling means preferably sends the receiving means control information on packeting of transmitted information. The receiving means preferably sends the calling means control information on how it transmits information. 13 The control information preferably uses the direct means of the invention. It may include a time stamp 262. It preferably includes the Group packet ID that will carry a particular call's information 261. It preferably includes the unit ID of a particular Group packet that contains the initial sub-unit for said new conversation. It preferably include a means to locate the particular sub-unit within a IP packet. The invention allows for one at least means for the receiving party to acknowledge receipt of control information.

The invention may be configured such that the telephone means at the calling party location (30), may auto select various carriers. It may include a means to determine if a target area code or number is accessible via Internet telephony. If not it preferably auto-selects another carrier means. If it calls the local agent (34) and receives a congestion signal, it preferably auto-selects another carrier. This method enables the caller to dial a number and have the handset, in part at least, determine the appropriate means to implement the call.

The invention preferably may be implemented, in part at least, by any one at least nodes on the Internet. In practice, it is preferable that it is restricted to ISP's who can provide sufficient bandwidth that they do not introduce unnecessary delays. It is also preferable that Internet bandwidth for telephony be separated from other Internet functions, at least for the duration of calls. It is also preferable that ISP's have access to a long distance telephone means.

The invention may also be applied in part at least, to other time critical means. For example live video, video conferencing, interactive games. It may also be adapted for any other sound information (eg. music).

The invention may have particular application with interactive Internet games. These may require one player's activity (eg. joystick movements, button hits, to be transmitted promptly to one at least other players. By sending this information via the Internet as long as packets arrive within a predefined window and coupling this to a telephone line means to handle tardy packet information, a reliable interactive games control means may be implemented.

The invention further describes a games console input means (eg. a joystick) that may minimise the amount of information that needs to be transferred via the net. The invention allows for any joystick means that measures the instantaneous (or average) velocity and direction of a joystick and multiple intervals. A processing means may then extrapolate joystick movement in between measured intervals. Other activities may be coupled to the closest measured interval (eg. button hits, game action, scores). This may enable a remote player means to synthesise the game action of one at least other players.

An extension of the invention may see two at least ISP's linked by a version of the Internet that support the well established IP means and an alternate Internet means that provides a reliable means for packet delivery. Said alternate means may initially be used, in part at least, to implement the time critical means of the invention. 14 B) Telephone Auto-select Means: The international trend for deregulation of telephone companies has resulted in multiple long distance telephone service providers in many countries. The local telephone service provider may be different to the long distance carrier.

A telephone customer may be able to select between different long distance carriers and the increasing availability of choice between telephone carrier has frequently created price competition in many regions.

The selection of long distance carrier is usually made by having the customer pre-select the carrier of their choice, with the call automatically routed to the correct carrier by one or multiple exchanges (or any other means) when the customer dials long distance phone numbers.

An alternative method of selecting long distance carriers is to have the customer dial additional digits (usually as a prefix) when they place a call.

The customer may also be offered a combination of means that may include auto-selecting the customer's preferred long distance carrier and enabling them to access one or multiple carriers, usually by dialing additional numbers.

The invention may be configured to include, part at least of any one or multiple of the following means and may be combined in any way with any other means.

1 ) Carrier Selecting Means. One part of the invention seeks to describe a means local to the customer's premises, in part at least, that permits, one at least customer, to call one at least, long distance numbers, and have said means local to the customer's premises, automatically (in part at least) select (in part at least) the long distance carrier for that particular call(s) (and/or for one or multiple subsequent calls), without requiring the customer(s) to enter, in part at least, one or multiple codes to access said long distance carrier. Said means local to the customer's premises may also be referenced in this document as the Carrier Selecting Means and the long distance carrier selected by said Carrier Selecting Means may be referenced as the Selected Carrier.

Said Carrier Selecting Means, in part at least, is preferably within: the enclosure of one or multiple telephones (that may also be referenced as Telephone Modifying Means); and/or one or multiple devices (that may also be referenced as Direct External Modifying Means) that intercept and/or modify, the dialing information between the telephone and the connection to the public switched network; and/or 15 one or multiple devices (that may also be referenced as Indirect External Modifying Means) that intercept and/or modify, the dialing information between the telephone and the connection to one at least PABX (and/or equivalent); and/or one or multiple devices (that may also be referenced as Switching Based Modifying Means) that intercept and/or modify, the dialing information, for one at least calls, within one at least PABX (and/or equivalent); and/or one or multiple devices (that may also be referenced as Post-Switched Modifying Means) that intercept and/or modify, the dialing information between one at least PABX (and/or equivalent) and the connection to the public switched telephone network; and/or intercept and/or modify information on the lines coupling the customer with the exchange.

The Carrier Selecting Means preferably does not interfere with locally dialed numbers and/or with special numbers (eg. toll free, emergency numbers, etc).

The Carrier Selecting Means may be configured, in part at least, such that in the absence of one or multiple customer and/or remote inputs, it does not modify long distance dialing information. In this case, the Selected Carrier would usually be the Pre-selected Carrier.

The Carrier Selecting Means may be configured, in part at least, such that in the absence of one or multiple customer and/or remote inputs, it modifies the long distance information such that the Selected Carrier is not the Pre-selected Carrier. This for example may be the case if a long distance carrier has signed up a customer who is pre-selected with another customer. By providing customers with the Carrier Selecting Means, customers may immediately switch to their new carrier and have no need for special codes, without waiting for the telephone exchange to change the Pre-selected Carrier. This may be particularly advantageous in regions where the local provider is also a long distance carrier that is not in a great hurry to make it easy for their customers to switch allegiances. Said local providers may also have an unfair advantage over other long distance carriers in that they can determine quickly that customers have switched carriers. Said local providers may also try to influence customers prior to, or early in the stage, of their association with the new carrier. The invention, in part at least, seeks to provide a means to offset this unfair advantage.

The Carrier Selecting Means may be configured, in part at least, such that in the absence of one or multiple customer and/or remote inputs, it modifies long distance dialing information even when the Selected Carrier is the Pre-selected Carrier.

The invention allows that one or multiple customer and/or remote inputs may influence the effect of the Carrier Selecting Means. This may include modifying one or multiple sequences of dialing information. 16 The invention allows that the Carrier Selecting Means may default (and/or be programmed) to a particular long distance carrier and that it may be programmed by the customer and/or a remote means to default to another long distance carrier.

The invention allows that the Carrier Selecting Means may default (and/or be programmed) to a particular long distance carrier and that it may be programmed by the customer and/or a remote means to select one or multiple other long distance carriers for: one or a limited number of subsequent calls, and/or a predetermined period of time, and/or on any other basis.

The invention may be configured to provide a means for one at least telephones to indicate to one at least, long distance carriers information about one at least agents of said long distance carrier who may have supplied the customer with said telephones. This provides an alternative and/or adjunctive method for the carrier to associate agents with customers. The preferred means includes one at least agent codes programmed within said one at least telephones and when the customer places a call with one at least long distance carrier, the agent code is transferred as part of the dialing sequence.

When additional information is inserted into the usual dialing process, a means is required to insert this information at one at least telephones. A means is also required to extract this information at a remote means, usually the long distance carrier. Because the long distance carrier may also be coupled to telephones that do not include, part at least, of the invention, a means may also required to allow the long distance carrier to determine when a dial sequence originates from compliant and/or non- compliant telephones. The preferred embodiment includes a means, wherein an unused country and/or area code is inserted into the dial sequence to indicate the presence of a telephone compliant with the invention. For example, suppose the code to select a particular long distance carrier is 1477, the code to access international numbers is 0011 and the target country code is 61. Assume that 99 is not used as a country code and that a particular agent code is 86 (shades of Maxwell Smart methinks!). To call a long distance number, a non-compliant telephone may dial 0011 + 61 +area code +telephone number the selected long distance carrier will be the pre-selected carrier in this case). To call a long distance number, a compliant telephone may dial the following: 1477 + 0011 +99 + 86 + 00 + 61 + area code + telephone number. The 00 may represent any code to activate other processes allowed by the invention. The invention allows that the long distance carrier may respond with information prior to the telephone supplying + 61 + area code +telephone number. The long distance carrier may also respond with information at any other time, and/or one at least telephones may send any other information, in any sequence, at any time. The codes shown are for example only and any numbers and/or symbols may be used. Said one at least telephones may not be restricted to sending information as dial tones and may use any other means (eg. modem format). 17

2) Dynamic Pricing Option. It may be difficult for a long distance carrier to maintain customer loyalty when customers are constantly bombarded with competing 'special offers' from other carriers. It may also be difficult for the customer to determine the good deals.

It is another objective of the invention, preferably coupled to and/or in conjunction with the Carrier Select Means and/or any other means described for the invention, to provide a Dynamic Pricing Means that may include, part at least, of one or multiple of the following: • a means for the customer to access and/or visualize and/or hear, in part at least, information on the price one at least carriers (preferably including the Preferred Carrier and/or the default carrier coupled to the Carrier Select Means) are charging for a particular call or group of calls; and/or • a means for the customer to compare the price to place one or multiple calls with one or multiple long distance carriers; and/or • a means for the customer to determine the money saved (and/or spent) by using one at least carrier, as compared with one or multiple other carriers, • for example, one embodiment of the invention displays the name (and/or one at least other identifying means) of one or multiple long distance carriers and for a particular call (and/or group of calls) the amount the customer as saved (and/or paid a premium) using the selected carrier instead of said one or multiple long distance carriers the selected carrier may be referenced as zero and the savings (and/or premium) displayed and/or spoken for one or multiple other carriers.

The price information, in part at least, may be: • an automatic response (referenced as the Auto Price Indicator) (for example, the prices of one or multiple carriers may be displayed/spoken, and said displayed/spoken may be in response to pre-programmed commands, and/or customer programmed commands, and/or commands programmed by a remote means (eg. by one at least long distance carriers), and/or in response to one at least other means); and/or • in response to one or multiple customer requests (referenced as Customer Initiated Price Request) (for example, the customer may use the telephone keypad (or any other means) to enter one at least codes, to select one at least prices, for one at least long distance carriers; and/or select one or multiple special keys, that in part at least, may each select pricing information for one or multiple long distance carriers; and/or 18 • in response to one or multiple commands sent by one at least long distance carrier when the customer is connected to the public telephone network (referenced as Remote Initiated Price).

The price information is preferably current information and preferably, in parts at least, able to be updated to reflect price changes. The updating of prices is preferably a dynamic process and preferably occurs, in part at least, when the customer is coupled via the public switched telephone network to one or multiple carriers.

The price information may be stored, in part at least, within memory storage means local to the customer's premises, preferably integral to one at least telephones (and/or coupled directly and/or indirectly to said telephones). Said storage means, in part at least, are preferably non- volatile and preferably re-programmable. Said storage elements are preferably refreshed, in part at least, (usually to ensure validity of contents) when one or multiple telephones are connected to one at least telephone carriers (preferably a long distance carrier). Any means may be used to update the price information and may include, in part at least, the means described in the next section (3) of this description.

The price information may be: a general tariff; and/or price for one at least calls a customer is intending to place in future; and/or the price for one at least calls the customer is about to place, and/or is the process of placing; and/or the estimate of a price, based in part on one or multiple variables (eg. customer estimate of the length and/or time of the call). any other pricing information.

The price information is preferably output to the customer by a display means coupled to the telephone. Said display means is preferably integral to said telephone and/or directly coupled to the telephone. Said display means is preferably a liquid crystal display (and/or any other low power device). An alternative or conjunctive means is to provide this information in audible format (eg. via the telephone sound output means).

3) Price Based Carrier Selection.

The invention also seeks to describe a Price Based Carrier Selection Means (also referenced as PBCSM) that, in part at least: has access to the long distance call prices, in part at least, for one at least long distance carriers, wherein, 19 said pricing information, in part at least, may be used to determine the choice of long distance carrier for one at least long distance calls, for one at least customers, wherein, the determination of carrier, based in part at least on price, is preferably transparent to the caller, in part at least, and preferably an electronic means coupled to one at least telephones and/or remote locations.

The PBCSM may, in part at least, be a Local PBCSM, wherein, part at least, of the means are local to the customer's premises. A local memory storage means is preferably coupled to one at least telephones and to long distance price information (preferably from multiple long distance carriers). The invention allows that price information may, in part at least, be supplied to said local memory by a customer initiated call price entry means that may include: • entry using one at least keys coupled to the telephone (and/or equivalent) ; and/or • information entered using voice recognition technology; and/or • information transferred from a data processing means, • the preferred embodiment preferably includes an I/O means (eg serial interface, l/R link) to allow information to be transferred from a customer computer (and/or one at least other data processing means), • the invention allows that, part at least of the pricing means may be coupled to a means connected to the internet, wherein, said pricing may be transferred, in part at least, to one at least telephones, and/or said means connected to the Internet (and/or one at least means coupled directly and/or indirectly to said means connected to the Internet) may, in part at least, use call pricing information to select, in part at least, the long distance carrier, and may emulate the Carrier Selection Means (as described earlier in this application), in part at least, and/or instruct, in part at least, the Carrier Selection Means coupled to one at least telephones, • the invention allows that part at least of the means described for the invention (that may also include, part at least, of the means of a telephone may be coupled and/or integrated into one at least means coupled to the Internet; and/or price information may be supplied, in part at least, by via the public switched telephone network (for example, by one at least long distance telephone providers), preferably as dial tones and/or modem formats, when the customer's telephone is coupled to, one at least, telephone carriers. 20 The invention allows that when a customer places a long distance call (and/or is about to place a call, and/or at any other time), the locally stored prices that multiple carriers charge to place the call may be examined, preferably using a means, that, in part at least, does not require intervention by the customer, and the selection of carrier may be based, in part at least, on said locally stored prices, with said selection, in part at least, preferably transparent to the user.

The Carrier Selection Means described in section 1) of the current application, may be used, in part at least, to connect to the chosen carrier.

The PBCSM may, in part at least, be a Remote PBCSM, wherein, part at least, of the means are remote to the customer's premises (preferably at the location of one or multiple local and/or long distance carriers). A remote memory storage means may, in part at least, be coupled to: • one at least routing means that direct the customers call to one at least long distance carriers, and/or • one at least other remote means. Said remote memory storage means preferably stores, in part at least, long distance call price information, preferably from multiple long distance carriers, preferably in a database maintained by the carrier. The invention may also be configured to provide a means for the customer to send pricing information that they are aware of to one at least long distance carriers and may also be configured such that said carrier may take this into consideration in their remote comparison means.

The invention allows for any one at least remote price comparison means that, in part at least, may use remotely stored long distance price information to determine, in part at least, the long distance carrier to be selected for one at least calls. Said remote price comparison means may include: • transferring, part at least, of the call price information to one at least means coupled to one at least telephones at one at least customers premises, wherein, part at least of the price information may be used, in part at least by the Local RBCSM (and/or any other means; and/or • making a remote determination, in part at least, as to which long distance carrier to select for one at least calls, and using a remote means, in part at least, to direct the call to the intended carrier, for example, the remote price comparison means may be located, in part at least, at one at least local telephone exchanges, wherein, said exchange directs the call to the appropriate carrier (a similar process may be used to select 21 long distance carriers on a non-price basis, eg pre- selected carriers and/or in response to special carrier select codes as described in (1 ) above), however, this process may not be impartial if the local carrier is also a long distance carrier; a similar means may be located at one at least long distance carriers, however, they are usually beyond the local exchange and may not be able to directly switch to another carrier; • making a remote determination, in part at least, as to which long distance carrier to select for one at least calls, and using a remote means, in part at least, to direct the call to the intended carrier, wherein, one at least long distance carriers determines that they will carry one at least call, wherein said call is channeled via the usual long distance means, and/or it is determined that another carrier has a more competitive rate (and/or for any other reason) and the call is redirected to said another carrier, said redirected may use any means, however, one means, in part at least, may send a code to the customer initiating the call, that instructs in part at least, the Call Selection Means coupled to one at least telephones, to re-send the dial sequence with another long distance carrier as the Selected Carrier. The invention allows that multiple carrier choices may be provided.

The customer of a long distance carrier may participate in an incentive program. The invention may be configured to allow for one at least Incentive Variance Means that allows the PBCSM, in part at least, (and/or any other means) to take into account potential lost incentives, when determining the price competitiveness of carriers. The invention may provide an incentive variance means that, in part at least, may be influenced by customer input. The invention allows for one at least means that includes the value of one at least customer's incentives, in part at least, in a storage means local and/or remote to the customer.

The invention may also include a Dynamic Price Variance Means, wherein, one at least long distance carrier (and/or agent) may decide (preferably, in part at least using an electronic means), usually after determining that they may need to redirect a call to an alternative carrier (for example, as a result of Remote PBCSM), 22 whether they are prepared to improve the price they are charging one at least customers, for one at least calls. They would preferably offer an equivalent or lower price than one or multiple other long distance carrier. One at least input may be coupled to the dynamic price variance means to determine, in part at least, if the carrier is prepared to adjust pricing, wherein, said input may include; • allowance for additional costs in re-routing the call (eg. there may be additional local carrier charges and/or the long distance carrier may charge a re-routing fee); and/or • information provided by the Incentive Variance Means • statistical analysis may be done on the probability of calls from particular customers to one or multiple called numbers exceeding (and/or in any other way) one at least predetermined (and/or one at least other methods) periods of time, statistical analysis may be particularly useful where a competitor is offering a capped charge on calls and/or where the price to compete may be marginal or at a loss, statistical analysis may include: • analysis of part at least of the call history of one at least customers ( a method that may be enhanced where customers implement password for users of their telephones and some correlation may be made between a particular caller and one at least called numbers) • the value of the customers business.

The redirection means may, in part at least, be an automatic response. Whether an automatic response is permitted may be under the control of the customer, in part at least. The invention allows that an automatic redirection may also signal to the customer: • that redirection has occurred; and/or • the long distance carrier selected for the re-direction; and/or • the rate charged for the call (usually a cost per minute, preferably with charging in increments of seconds used); and/or • one at least other information.

The invention allows that the redirection may, in part at least, be under the control of the customer, for example, the carrier may wish to signal the customer that they cannot offer the best price on one at least call connections.

4) The invention may be configured with a Line Busy Redirection Means, wherein, if an intended Selected Carrier is not available (eg. all lines are busy) an alternative long distance carrier is selected. One at least Line Busy Redirection Means may be coupled, in part at least, to one at least telephones 23 local to the customer and/or at one or multiple remote means, that may include one at least local and/or long distance exchange. The preferred means of local implementation is for a means coupled to one at least telephones to signal the Carrier Select Means that the long distance number is busy and that it may choose an alternative (preferably the next cheapest) carrier. The local line busy means may not be able to distinguish between a busy line due to the called party being engaged and the long distance carrier's lines being congested.

The preferred embodiment of the invention allows for a means generated by one at least carriers, preferably one at least long distance carriers, that signals the local line redirection means that said long distance carrier has its lines temporarily congested. One method to achieve this may use a means similar to that used to signal price based redirection, wherein said means similar should be readily adaptable by those experienced in the art.

The invention allows that the Line Busy Redirection Means may indicate to the customer (eg. by a display means) that redirection has occurred. The customer may be provided with a means of determining, in part at least, whether Line Busy Redirection occurs.

5) The invention may be configured with a Secure Processing Means coupled to at least one telephone that includes a secure processing and/or secure memory storage means. The preferred embodiment may provide secure processing and memory within the microprocessor means used within the telephone to implement in part at least, other means of the invention. The secure processing means may be implemented, in part at least, by a smart card. A means coupled to one at least telephones may include a smart card reading and/or writing means.

The invention describes a means that may include a public/private key encryption/decryption means within one at least telephones. The invention describes a means that may include one off codes (eg. a table of randomly generated values). The invention may use any one at least encryption/decryption means, that may include, part at least, of the means described in PCT/AU/97/00010 (also by this inventor).

The invention allows that electronic funds may be transferred (and/or already present) in a means coupled to one at least telephones. Said electronic funds may be within said secure memory storage means. The electronic funds may be used as surety against telephone usage. The electronic funds may be decremented (or in any other way adjusted) against telephone use (in particular long distance calls). The invention allows that a log of: • calls made with one at least long distance carriers may be stored, in part at least, in said secure memory storage means; and/or • funds owing to one at least long distance carriers may be stored in part at least, in said secure memory storage means. 24 The invention allows that when one at least calls are placed with one at least long-distance carrier, that electronic funds may be transferred (preferably using a secure means) to said carrier (and/or agent) to pay for, part at least, said one at least calls.

The invention allows that electronic funds may be transferred on a periodic basis (that may be variable, predetermined or any other means) to pay for accumulated telephone usage, for example, one at least long distance carriers may provide a monthly telephone account (eg. by post and/or electronically, preferably in a secure format) and said electronic funds may be used to pay said bill, in part at least.

6) The invention may be configured to provide one at least telephone means with a Secure User Password Means. This preferably uses the secure processing and storage means described in the preceding 5). The invention describes a password means that may require one or multiple users to enter a password, to activate in part at least, the functions of said one at least telephones. Each user is preferably provided with a unique password. The preferred embodiment of the invention includes a generic password (eg.0000) within the telephone when initially supplied. This may then be re- programmed by the customer to a master password. This may then be used to provide one or multiple passwords for users.

The password protection of a telephone may not protect the telephone line itself from unauthorised access. Unauthorised use may be possible by replacing a password-protected telephone with an unprotected telephone. It is also possible for unauthorised connections to be made to the telephone line outside of the customer's premises. The invention also describes a means that may be used to password protect the line itself. This is referenced as the Password Line Protection Means. One preferred embodiment of the invention provides a means for one at least telephones to generate an ID means that may be interpreted by a remote means (preferably coupled to one at least long distance carriers and/or local carriers), to indicate that thetelephone is Password Line Protection Means compliant. That one at least telephone lines are Password Line Protection Means compliant is preferably predetermined between customer and long distance carrier. Prior to and/or during the establishment of a long distance call, one at least telephones preferably output a line access password to one at least long distance carriers. This is preferably securely generated (eg. by the secure processing means described elsewhere for the invention) and is not known to the user(s) of the telephone. The invention further describes a means wherein, said line access password may be varied on any basis, preferably each time a long distance call is made. The preferred means to achieve this is to have a means coupled to the telephone that may be reversed, in part at least, by a remote means (preferably the long distance carrier). The preferred embodiment has a sync means coupled locally to the telephone that generate a flag (that is preferably one-off) that indicates to said remote means the password generation means for a particular call. This may be as simple as a sequential count, for example, 1 for the 1st call, 2 for the next etc. The remote means preferably logs flag codes that have been used and will not accept repeated use. The remote means 25 preferably does not require sequential use of flag codes. This permits a telephone to create a flag that fails to connect with the carrier without disrupting the process. The telephone preferably generates a password using a means that may be validated by the remote means, preferably by using the password and said flag. By using a preferably different password generation means for each call, it is not practical to use a protected telephone line to place long distance calls to participant long distance carriers. The means may also be adapted to provide protection to local calls. The variable password means is preferably transparent to telephone users who preferably only need to use the Secure User Password Means previously described to activate the variable password means.

Those experienced in the art will appreciate that the variable password protection means may also have application with any other password protection means.

By combining: a means to display the cumulative and or discrete cost of long distance calls, and/or a means of securely transferring billing information to and/or generating it within, one at least telephones, and/or a means of ensuring one at least telephone lines are password protected for use with one at least securetelephones, one at least telephone carrier (eg. a long distance carrier), may guarantee that the metered price displayed (and/or otherwise output to the customer) matches the usage of said telephone line as metered by the service provider.

7) The invention may be configured that it displays the name of one or multiple Internet Websites. Said display maybe intermittent. The invention also seeks to describe a means that allows the customer to be alerted (eg a visual display) when and/or that said one or multiple Website have been updated.

8) The invention may be configured to provide a means of display and/or record bonus points (and/or any other means) that is part of one at least frequent user incentive programs (and/or any other incentive program). The preferred embodiment includes, part at least, of the incentive means within secure processing and/or storage means coupled to one at least telephones. It is preferable that the incentive means may be updated, in part at least, from a remote means (eg. a long distance carrier and/or agent) via the public switched telephone network. The preferred embodiment automatically adjusts incentive points related to long distance telephone usage in tandem (and/or any other relationship) with said usage. This preferably occurs in a secure means coupled to one at least telephones. The preferred embodiment may be configured such that the customer may determine: • the number of points (or any other reward means), and/or • type of rewards that are available, and/or • the number of points required to acquire one at least rewards rewards, 26 and/or • any other information associated with one at least reward programs.

The reward means coupled to one at least telephones may, be coupled in part at least, to one or multiple other reward systems. Said other reward systems may be integrated with the long distance call reward system. The invention allows that said other reward systems may also be metered by one at least telephones, for example, a connection to one at least ISP's may have a reward system linked to the telephone means.

9) The invention seeks to describe a realtime clock and/or calendar means (referenced as a Time Means) that may be coupled to one at least telephones. Said time means, in part at least, is preferably secure and tamperproof. One embodiment of the invention may use the secure Time Means to ensure, in part at least, that when electronic funds coupled to one at least telephones are utilised to pay for calls the tariff for the call is appropriate to the time of the call. The secure Time Means may be used for any other reason.

10) One embodiment of the invention provides a means (referenced as the Comparative Pricing Means) for one or multiple long distance carriers (and/or agents) to provide, part at least, of their price structure in encrypted format. This preferably uses a public key encryption system and/or one-off codes and/or part at least, of the encryption decryption means described in PCT Application PCT/AU/97/00010 (also by the present inventor). This is preferably only decoded, in part at least, within said secure memory. This may be used in association with any other means, however, one application described by the invention allows organisations (and/or individuals) (in particular where tenders may be called for the provision of long distance services) to create a more dynamic process by allowing: one or multiple long distance carrier to submit price schedules at one or multiple intervals (and/or on a continuing basis, eg, when a telephone call is placed), and load, part at least, of these prices into a means at the customers location (preferably within one at least telephones) and use, part at least, of this information as a reference means when deciding which long distance carrier to select for one at least calls.

The invention allows that, part at least, of said Comparative Pricing Means may be distributed over one or multiple customer premises, for example, a government organisation may centralize, in part at least, the carrier selection process and/or the storage means of long distance prices, (for example, at a centralized customer controlled telephone exchange or PABX).

The invention allows that, part at least, of said Comparative Pricing Means may be distributed over one or multiple non-customer premises, this may includes service providers and/or one or multiple telephone carriers (that may include long distance carriers). 27

The invention allows that, part at least, of the Comparative Pricing Means may not use secure memory storage means and/or may not use encrypted price information.

11) Customers may have the option of having a call diversion facility attached to their telephone, and the usual means of call diversion may be included with the means of the invention. One disadvantage of the known call diversion means is that it may not be practical to change the number that the call is diverted to, when the customer is remote from their phone. This is usually because once the call is diverted, the customer is usually prevented from ringing into their own telephone system to reprogram one at least facilities (eg. call waiting). One or multiple telephone exchanges may be adapted to allow changes to call diversion by customers when remote to the call diverted telephone and preferably to provide the necessary password protection to prevent unauthorised changes, however, this may require significant resources and requires the co-operation of the telephone company. The preferred means of the invention is a Variable Call Diversion Means, wherein, the customer may program their phone to automatically inactivate call diversion at one at least times. The time(s) of inactivation (and/or reactivation) of call diversion are preferably programmable by the customer, and preferably programmable when the customer is remote and/or local to their telephone subject to call diversion. The invention allows for any means that inactivates and/or activates call diversion in response to a realtime clock and/or calendar source coupled to the telephone. The invention allows for any means that activates call diversion in response to a password means supplied from a remote location. The invention allows for any means, wherein, said password means is a variable password on any predetermined (and/or any other) basis. The preferred method has a microprocessor monitor the current time and compare this with a pre-programmed time to inactivate. When the current time equals or exceeds the programmed time, said microprocessor initiates a call to the local carrier and sends a code to inactivate call diversion. The telephone may then receive calls, allowing the customer to reprogram (if required) call diversion. The preferred method has the microprocessor answer the telephone and monitor the line for incoming dial tones (a method known to those experienced in the art). The detection of the appropriate tones (eg. password) provides the remotely located customer access to the programming facilities coupled to their telephone. If required, said microprocessor may dial the local exchange (and/or any other means) and re-activate call diversion and/or supply a new number to redirect calls to. The Variable Call Diversion Means may automatically reactivate call diversion (to the previous number and/or a new number(s)) if the customer does not call in for a predeterm ined time (and/or o n any other basis) .

12) A Caller ID Means may be coupled to one at least telephones using part at least of the means of the invention, wherein, the telephone displays the telephone number of a calling party. One known means of implementing Caller ID is with a chip that receives 1200 baud FSK asynchronous data (any means may be used, and may vary depending on standards in different countries). By coupling this facility to one at least telephone handsets, a means is also provided to allow long distance carriers to transfer information (that may in part pertain to one at least means of the invention) to one at least telephones. The display means described for the invention may also be used to display Caller ID information. 28 13) A modem means may be coupled to one at least telephones. The preferred means provides a connector for a modem board that where required, uses, in part at least, the display and/or audio functions coupled to said one at least telephones to signal various status conditions to the customer. Said Modem means may require a separate power supply to be coupled to said one at least telephones. A means may be coupled to one at least telephones that permits a remote party (usually the customer) to call in and access their computer system via said modem means. This is preferably password protected. The password protection is preferably a variable password means.

14) A means may be coupled to one at least telephones that may permit said telephone to couple a cordless telephone means to said telephone and provide said cordless telephone with, part at least, of the means of the invention. The invention also allows that part at least, of the means of the invention may be included in one at least cordless telephones (and/or base stations). The preferred embodiment of the invention provides a means to couple a radio transceiver to said one at least telephones. The invention allows for a means, wherein, voice and/or other information received by said one at least telephones may be coupled to said transceiver and transmitted (preferably using radio means) to a cordless handset. The invention allows for a means that allows said cordless handset to transmit voice and/or other information to said radio transceiver and/or a means that permits said radio transmitter to transfer this to said one at least telephones.

15) A means may be coupled to one at least telephones that includes, part at least of the invention, that may permit said telephone to couple an emergency alert means to said telephone. This preferably includes a small portable transmitter that may be worn (eg. by the elderly and/or infirm) that when activated triggers said one at least telephone to dial one at least predetermined numbers (and/or any other response). The radio transceiver means described in said 14) may be adapted to receive said emergency alert.

16) A means may be included within one at least telephones that includes, part at least, of the invention, that provides said telephone with hands free operation.

17) A means may be included within one at least telephones that include, part at least, of the invention to interface to one at least user controlled data processing systems (eg. a personal computer). Said means may also include a means to digitize voice information from the telephone line for storage on said user controlled data processing system and/or for digital information on said user controlled data processing system to be transferred to said one at least telephone. This may be to effect a telephone answering machine or for any other reason. The invention allows that the mass storage means attached to a personal computer (or equivalent) may record telephone messages and or store messages for transfer to callers. The invention also allows for a means to allow a telephone answering means to be coupled to said one at least telephones.

18) The invention allows for any means at a remote location (usually the long distance carrier) that interfaces with, 29 any means described for one at least telephones coupled to part at least, of the means of the invention. This may include: a database of call prices charged by one at least long distance carriers, and/or a means to access and/or interpret call tones sent by one at least telephones and process the information they represent, and/or a means to send information to the customer (eg. dial tones and/or modem encoding), and/or a means of processing password (preferably variable passwords), and/or a means of updating prices in one at least telephones. The specific requirements to implement the invention at said remote site should be obvious to those experienced in the art who have studied the means of the invention coupled to one at least telephones.

The telephone auto select means may be implemented by, part at least, of one or multiple of the following:

Any means for the customer to input information, this is preferably a keyboard means, with the preferred method using one or multiple normal and/or special keys on a telephone. A microprocessor means preferably scans the input keys and converts user keystrokes into a binary code. These may be stored in one or multiple registers and/or memory storage means coupled to the processing means. Said binary codes may represent any information, that may include numeric information representative of telephone number, area codes, long distance carrier codes; and/or special functions; and/or commands; and/or any other information. An experienced person will be able to adapt known keyboard input means using a microprocessor (as is the case in some existing telephones) to perform the input requirements of the invention. An alternative or conjunctive method may use audible input from the customer coupled to a simple voice recognition system. Those experienced in the art will appreciate that, part at least, of the keyboard input means and/or voice recognition input means may be in a device coupled: directly (eg plugs into the telephone) and/or indirectly (eg. plugs into or is integral with, a device coupled to the telephone line that is not integral, in part at least, to the telephone and performs, in part at least, the functions of the invention), to the telephone.

Those experienced in the art should be able to implement any of the functions described for the invention, in part at least, with the use of a microprocessing means, programmable memory, data input (eg. keyboard for the customer, and dial tones and/or modem encoding for a remote location).

SUBSTΠTJTE SHEET (Rule 26) (RO/AU) 30

The preferred embodiment of the invention modifies the processing and memory storage means within a telephone (where present, and if not includes a processing and/or memory storage means). One usual function of said processing means may include the scanning of the telephone keypad and the direct and/or indirect of keystrokes into dialing information, usually output on modern phones as a series of tones. A table lookup means that accepts part at least of the keypad information and compares this to one at least entries in said lookup table is preferably coupled to said processing means within a telephone. Said entries may include: one at least codes that indicate that the dialed number is a long distance code; and/or one at least codes that may assist in connecting the customer with one or multiple long distance telephone companies; and/or information input by the customer and/or a remote means that may modify the behaviour of the Carrier Selecting Means (eg. to change the Selected Carrier); and/or price information for one or multiple long distance carriers.

Said entries are preferably stored in a programmable storage means (eg. flash memory, battery backed RAM). This is preferably re-programmable, in part at least, by the customer and/or a remote means.

Said table lookup means preferably decides whether the dialing information as input by the user requires modification. If it does, it preferably adds, in part at least, information to select an appropriate long distance carrier and/or or any other information.

The preferred means for a customer to modify the Carrier Selecting Means, and/or any other means described for the invention, in part at least, may include: entering one or multiple codes using the keypad and/or one or multiple special function keys; and/or voice commands. The carrier selection means is preferably implemented by including a lookup table of codes that indicate long distance calls (and/or calls that are not long distance). When the customer enters a telephone number, a processing means preferably checks said lookup table to assess if the call is to be a long distance call. If it is a long distance call, said processing means preferably (if applicable) appends the long distance carrier code to the start (or any other appropriate location) of the dialed number. The modified number is then sent to the dial tone generating means. 31 The preferred method for the Carrier Selecting Means and/or any other means described for invention; and/or for one or multiple telephone carriers to communicate with the user is: with a liquid crystal display or any other display means (preferably integrated into the telephone); and/or audio (this may be generated in part at least within the customers premises (eg. the microprocessor within the telephone and a sound lookup table); and/or at any remote location (eg. by the long distance carrier and sent as normal telephone audio signals.

The preferred method for the Carrier Selecting Means and/or any other means described for invention to send information (command, data, any other information) is encoded as dial tones. These are preferably muted to the customer. The preferred embodiment may send a valid area code (and valid carrier ID where required or desired) and an unused telephone number to signal the long distance carrier (directly and/or indirectly) that customer equipment needs to communicate with the carrier.

The invention allows that part at least of the Carrier Selecting Means may be implemented by modifying the keypad, such that when certain key sequences are entered, they are transformed into others.

The invention also allows for any means that intercepts the dialing information after it has been created and modifies it. This may occur within the environment of the telephone (in part at least) and/or external to thetelephone. Those experienced in the art should be able to construct a device that accept information from atelephone, parses it, and if required modifies it to select the appropriate long distance carrier. A similar means may, in part at least, be embedded within a PABX and/or between the PABX and one at least coupling points to the public switched telephone network.

The invention allows for any means that permits one at least remote location to modify the behaviour and/or intended outcomes of the Carrier Selecting Means. This may for example be a long distance carrier that wishes to direct calls to one or multiple other carriers. This may be for any reason and may include: • to assist in implementing part of the dynamic pricing option (eg. as a service to the customer, wherein, the customer is redirected to a carrier that may be offering a better deal than the customers usual carrier is prepared to offer) ; and/or • to redirect the customer back to a pre-selected carrier and/or any other one or multiple carriers (eg. if the customer is not paying their bill. The preferred embodiment of the invention allows for any means that permits a remote location, connected by the public switched telephone system to send one or multiple tone codes from remote location to customer equipment, and/or any means in the customers equipment that may interpret and/or use these tones, in part at least, to modify said Carrier Selecting Means.

Claims

32 The tones are preferably not audible to the customer.The means to modify the Carrier Selecting Means by a remote means are preferably password protected and preferably use a rotating password means, wherein the password varies (preferably unpredictably) on one or multiple occasions. The means for the customer to modify the Carrier Selecting Means may also be password protected.Those experienced in the art are familiar with the conversion digital codes into tone and/or the conversion of tones into digital information. The preferred embodiment has the telephone processing means examine the digital format of these tones and acts according to a predetermined command structure (preferably stored in non-volatile, programmable memory coupled to said processing means) to modify the Carrier Selecting Means. If the call is to be redirected to another carrier said telephone- processing means preferably generates the appropriate dial code transparently to the user.Claims.
1. A method of Internet Telephony wherein the transfer of voice information for one at least telephone calls includes the transfer of part of the information by an IP means and part by a non-IP means.
2. The method of claim 1 , wherein said non-IP means includes use of the PSTN.
3. The method of claim 1 , wherein said part by a non-IP means includes control information.
4. The method of claim 1 , wherein said part by a non-IP means includes voice information also delivered by said IP means and lost and/or delayed when sent by said IP means.
5. A method of linking a customers telephone means to a remotely maintained, in part at least, database, wherein said database provides information to assist in the selection of one at least long distance carriers for one at least telephone calls.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein said selection includes a comparison of tariffs from multiple carriers.
7. The method of claim 5 wherein said telephone means is a telephone handset for use with the PSTN.
8. The method of claim 5, wherein said telephone means is an electronic device connected to the Internet.
9. The method of claim 5, wherein said database is coupled to one at least long-distance carriers.
10. The method of claim 5, wherein said database is coupled to an Internet means.
PCT/AU1999/000155 1998-03-12 1999-03-12 Improved realtime internet functions by use of a hybrid pstn and ip protocol means WO1999046904A1 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AUPP2288 1998-03-12
AUPP2288A AUPP228898A0 (en) 1998-03-12 1998-03-12 A system to auto-select telephone services
AUPP2368 1998-03-16
AUPP2368A AUPP236898A0 (en) 1998-03-16 1998-03-16 An improved method of internet telephony

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

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AU29127/99A AU2912799A (en) 1998-03-12 1999-03-12 Improved realtime internet functions by use of a hybrid pstn and ip protocol means

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