This invention relates to a communication method. Preferred aspects relate to a communication method for making a telephone call through a service provider alternative to that provided on a telephone, said call preferably being established through local lines. This invention also relates to a network communications apparatus, and to a communications handset.
Currently, telephones, and in particular mobile telephones and internet telephones make use of a single, specific service provider through which calls are made to a recipient. These calls are usually in the form of voice calls, but data may also be sent in the form of emails, facsimile and text messages. Calls to a recipient though the single, specific service providers' network are often expensive, particularly if the recipient's telephone uses a different service provider, and the call quality is can be poor.
Currently, a mobile user wanting multiple telecoms services will need multiple service accounts, contracts, PINS and usage procedures.
Further, it is currently time consuming, difficult and expensive to establish, for example, a conference call. When a caller currently wishes to establish a conference call, each party involved in the call must dial into a central number to establish a connection at a specified time. In advance of the conference call each party involved in the call must also be issued with a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Therefore, when there are several parties involved in the call, the time taken to organise the call can be significant. A further disadvantage of this current method is that if one or more parties who are involved in the conference call are calling from a mobile telephone or internationally, the cali costs can be significant, particularly if several mobile service provider networks are involved. When a call is made through several service provider networks the call quality also suffers.
A method is required that can establish a high quality call or conference call through a least cost routing. There is further required a method that enables a conference call to be made by dialling out centrally to one or more recipients without the requirement of sending out PINs in advance or getting the parties involved in the conference call to call in at the same time.
According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a communications network apparatus for providing additional services to a user that makes a telephone call, said services including those of a type that are provided telephonically, the apparatus comprising means (in the form of a receiver) for receiving an incoming telephone call from a user to a third party, means (in the form of a processor and associated memory) for receiving a request for an
additional service to be provided to the user, means (in the form of a processor) for processing the request automatically thereby to setup the additional service to be provided to the user, preferably without further direct input from the user, and means (in the form of telecommunications switching circuitry) for connecting the call to the third party.
According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a communications handset which comprises means (in the form of a processor and associated memory) for enabling a user to create a request for a service to be provided as part of a telephone call prior to the user initiating the telephone call, means (in the form of a processor) for initiating the telephone call, 10 and means (in the form of a transmitter) for transmitting details regarding the requested service, preferably substantially at the same time that the telephone call is initiated.
According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a web-based server which is connectable to an apparatus as herein described.
According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a communications system which comprises an apparatus as herein described and at least one handset as herein described connectable to the apparatus.
20 According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a communications network apparatus, which comprises means (in the form of a memory and processor) for recording a telephone call which is being routed through the apparatus, a memory for storing the recorded telephone call, and means (in the form of a processor and associated memory) for enabling remote access to the recorded telephone call from the memory.
According to yet a further aspect of the invention there is provided a method of handling telephone conference calls which comprises placing a telephone call to each of the conference call participants, detecting an unanswered call that has not been answered by a participant, and redialling the unanswered call.
A further aspect of the invention provides a communications network apparatus for providing services to a user making a telephone call, the apparatus comprising means for receiving a request for a plurality of different services to be provided to the user and means for providing the plurality of services to the user simultaneously.
Where the claims specify a "means for" feature, this feature may generally be implemented or carried out using a suitable processor and associated memory, circuitry, or the like, unless the context of the feature implies otherwise.
In some embodiments, this invention presents a new telephone communication system that integrates otherwise disparate voice services and makes them available to the mobile phone user through a single simple interface.
5 Aspects of the present invention present an apparatus and method by which all of the following services can be made available through one system with a single logon, a single user interface, a single bill and a single process for the user:
• Collaboration services: (e.g. dial-in conference calls, GSM conferencing, push to talk)
• Cost cutting services: (e.g. calling cards, call back) 10 • Call Recording
• Content Delivery (e.g. translation services, flight bookings, call centre management)
This invention provides means for consolidating a wide range of voice services into one single interface which is loaded onto a mobile phone.
Some embodiments of this invention provide for an integrated voices service delivery platform: a complete turn-key solution of customised handset software, a call management facility and an on-line customer care package.
20 Embodiments of this invention are likely to be of benefit to managers who rely on their mobiles, coordinate global teams and spend significant time away from the office, and thereby usually create the highest cost in mobile services, through overseas calls, mobile roaming and conference calls. Embodiments of this invention also enable these costs to be reduced significantly and also provides simple to use group calling and call recording functionality on a
25 mobile phone. Furthermore, since this invention is built on the corporate network, adding value to Intranet Private Branch exchange (IPBX) deployments, (or provided through licensed mobile carriers), there is control over the line quality and security.
By making tangible savings in the high impact area of mobile, embodiments of this invention
30 help to ensure related projects such as IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and IPBX are clearly seen as successful IT investments. No matter how significant the potential savings and business benefits from investment in IPBX, IMS infrastructure and Wireless Local Area Network
(WLAN), potential gains are only achieved if the high cost users readily adopt and accept the services provided. By converging multiple fixed services into one, simple mobile interface, this
35 embodiment facilitates real and sustainable cost savings.
A further aspect of the present invention provides a communication method using a telephone having an electronic memory and a data processor, in which memory a first data program is provided which enables the telephone to normally operate through a first service provider:
- providing in the electronic memory a user selectable second data program that enables the telephone to operate on an alternative network of a second service provider;
- initiating the second data program, and specifying determining therewith the local country;
- specifying a person or persons to be called;
- generating within the second data program a command string including details of the person or persons to be called; - transmitting the data to a first local hub within the local country; and preferably
- transmitting the data from the first local hub through the alternative network to a central switching hub, which verifies the caller's country of origin, the caller's identity and the accuracy of the recipient data;
- routing of the call by the central hub to a second local hub in the country of the recipient and establishment of a local call to that recipient so that the call is connected from the originating telephone to the recipient.
As used herein, preferably the term "caller" refers specifically to the person making the call, and the term "recipient" refers to the person or persons to whom the call is being made.
As used herein, preferably the term "central switching hub" refers to a central hub which is connected to the PSTN and Internet lines and which manages the quality of calls, the execution of commands, the authentication of PINs, the billing for calls, the cost allocation of calls and the monitoring of usage trends across the network for all users.
The telephone may have an electronic memory and a data processor, so preferably the telephone will be a mobile telephone or an internet based telephone, but may equally be a suitable landline attached telephone.
Preferably the command string generated by the second data program is directed to a first local hub in the country of call origin through local lines and then transmitted to the central switching hub.
The present invention relies on the use of local telephone lines to minimise cost and maximise call quality. Therefore it is preferred that the first local hub is accessed through a local Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) number or internet address so that a local call can be initially established to direct the call to the central switching hub.
Likewise, once the call has been sent to the central switching hub and directed to a recipient or recipients, it is preferred that the local hub in the country of the recipient makes a call through PSTN or internet lines. Clearly if the recipient is in the same country as the caller, the first local hub can be the same as the second local hub. J
Most calls made by the method according to the present invention will be voice calls, but of course any transmission thorough the PSTN or Internet lines can be established. Preferably, as the call can be sent locally through any carrier network, such as PSTN, mobile, telex, facsimile or Internet, or indeed through corporate networks such as email or intranet, voice or data calls W may be sent.
In prior art methods, it is difficult to manage the cost of a conference call to several recipients, particularly when they are phoning into a central number. It is preferred that the caller may establish a cost code for each call, which cost may differ depending upon the number of 15 recipients, the country where each recipient is located and whether the call is for personal or business use.
In the present invention, to facilitate the management of the call, it is preferable that call details are logged on the memory of the telephone, or more preferably managed by the central 20 switching hub for instant access by the caller from the telephone or Internet.
To further facilitate the making of a call, it is preferred that contact details for an individual recipient are stored on the memory of the telephone. These could include such information as telephone number, facsimile number, email address and Internet address. Such data may be 25 accessed from any address book function already provided on the telephone.
In order that a conference call may be established, it is preferred that contact details for a group of recipients may be separately stored on the memory of the telephone. This group may then simultaneously be contacted and connected using their information by the central hub, via local 30 hubs in their respective locations.
According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a telephone which is connected to and normally operates on the network of a first service provider, said telephone having 35 - an electronic memory;
- a data processor linked to the memory;
- an input mechanism through which a user may: specify the country of current location, and
specify more than one recipient to be simultaneously called;
- a data program stored in the electronic memory, which data program is initiated by the user by means of the input mechanism, and is then run by the data processor to place a call through a second service provider; wherein the data program generates a command string based on the data specified using the user input mechanism and the caller's identification; and preferably
- means to connect a local call from the telephone to the network of the second service provider, which network includes a first local hub in the country specified, a central switching hub, and at least one second local hub in the country of each recipient; whereby the data program is adapted to transmit the command string to the first local hub, from where it is transmitted onwards to the central switching hub which verifies the originating telephone's location, identity and the recipient data, and which central switching hub further initiates local calls to each of the recipients through second local hubs in their respective countries, the calls being linked as a conference call and simultaneously routed to the originating telephone through the originating telephone's local call connection to the first local hub.
The connection to the first local hub may be achieved through the network of the first service provider.
Further preferred features of the invention are characterised by the dependent claims.
The invention extends to methods and/or apparatus substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
The invention also provides a computer program and a computer program product for carrying out any of the methods described herein and/or for embodying any of the apparatus features described herein, and a computer readable medium having stored thereon a program for carrying out any of the methods described herein and/or for embodying any of the apparatus features described herein.
The invention also provides a signal embodying a computer program for carrying out any of the methods described herein and/or for embodying any of the apparatus features described herein, a method of transmitting such a signal, and a computer product having an operating system which supports a computer program for carrying out any of the methods described herein and/or for embodying any of the apparatus features described herein.
Any feature in one aspect of the invention may be applied to other aspects of the invention, in any appropriate combination. In particular, method aspects may be applied to apparatus aspects, and vice versa.
5 Furthermore, features implemented in hardware may generally be implemented in software, and vice versa. Any reference to software and hardware features herein should be construed accordingly.
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described purely by way of example only with 10 reference to the accompanying drawings wherein:
Figure 1 shows a flow diagram representing a telephone having a data program that allows a call to be made to a recipient (or recipient);
/J Figure 2 shows a flow diagram of how a call may be made;
Figure 3 shows the underlying network used to complete calls and deliver data (this particular embodiment is a hub and spoke configuration with a centralized switching hub);
20 Figure 4 shows a diagram of the handset software menu system and operation;
Figure 5 shows a diagram of a call in one example;
Figure 6 shows a web interface; and
Figure 7 shows a core switching network.
A number of preferred examples of the invention are now described.
30 One preferred example of the present invention is that of a fixed-mobile convergence solution that substitutes off-net mobile operator costs with on-net call completion, thereby placing multiple services within easy reach of mobile customers.
The preferred example therefore provides for a simple way for the user to: 55 1. Make cost savings on overseas calls and mobile roaming
2. Instantly call groups, as easily as a normal phone call
3. Record mobile phone calls and retrieve audio files securely
It will be apparent that this example is simple: simple to implement, simple to support and maintain and most importantly simple to use.
The service is designed, for example, for multinational companies and mobile carriers as a service in a box that can in "plugged into" existing systems and infrastructure. The service mainly replaces existing services, most of which are provided through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems.
A weakness with current practice is that it requires a single user to access multiple IVRs for multiple services, provided in isolation from each other. The weakness is that multiple services, multiple PINs, calling processes, voice based navigation menus, commands, bills and support lines is very inconvenient for users and creates risk and complexity for companies buying and managing telecoms services.
The key IVR based systems the present example addresses are:
• Conference calls
• Calling Cards
• Call Recording
• Pre-paid mobile top-up • Reservation systems
• Translation services
In all of these cases, each IVR can only deliver the single services it provides, not combinations. With the present example, the user can combine the benefits provided by each type of IVR service to create something new.
(i) obtaining calling card savings on calls to multiple people, whilst recording the call (ii) reserving an airline ticket and recording the transaction (iii) calling one or more people at low cost, adding a translator to the call and recording the conversation minutes.
Also, current IVR systems require the user to have already called and connected before requiring the user to navigate voice menus and enter commands. With the present example, the user makes a selection (of a required service or services) on a handset screen GUI and then pushes the CALL button. At that point all commands and intentions required by the IVR are transferred over DTMF tones and actioned (or setup) within seconds.
While the required service (or services) are being setup, the user only hears a ringing signal. The call is only connected (and the ringing signal terminated) once the service (or services) have been setup.
The key benefits of this are:
1. The user experience is enhanced - faster, simpler, cheaper, single sign on for all services, one bill, one interface, one calling process with PIN ID stored in the phone. The setup of the service is transparent to the user, since the users has merely selected the required services, and placed the appropriate call(s). The user is then transmitted a ringing signal up until the call is connected, with the service (or services already set up).
2. The service provider has lower costs of support, security and service management. Also, the present example can present a logo on any supported handset, even if that handset belongs to a competing network.
There are other, non-IVR systems the present example can also interface to including mobile to text messaging (telex, fax, SMS), and a further example provides mobile game activation and video call activation.
The result is that the present example presents a single mobile interface that uses a new communications method to accesses multiple services which are now made complementary, whereas previously their benefits were provided in isolation.
A preferred example includes the following parts, which may be configured and integrated to work in synergy with one another:
• The handset software
• A global dial-in network
• A central switching facility
• The Web interface
The Handset Software
This is designed to be easy to use from many common mobile devices including BlackBerry™, Nokia™, Sony Ericsson™, Motorola™ and MS Mobile™. The user loads the handset application (for Java2™, Symbian™, BlackBerry™ and MS Mobile 2003™ and MS Mobile V5™) onto their phone or handset 50 and they are ready to use multiple services through the system. There is no need to change SIM card or mobile carriers. The call set up process is like any phone call. There is no need to initiate call-backs through GPRS or SMS. Unlike push to talk, the handset software only requires the caller to have the service, not the called parties.
In use, a user loads up the software application, and then selects the services required. For example, the user may select that he wants the call he is about to make to be recorded. The user then accesses his contacts or phone book (provided, for example, by the native software of the handset) and selects a party to call. If the user requires a group or conference call the user selects multiple parties from the phone book.
The software then dials out to a local PSTN which is connected to the communications network apparatus 52, which is in the form of a switch 54 (which may be in the form of a Softswitch) and an IVR subsystem 56 (see Figure 5), and referred to herein as an MPT. Prior to calling, the handset software assembles a command string in the form of a dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signal which incorporates details of the services required. If the user has selected to make a conference call - by selecting multiple parties to call - the DTMF string will also include multiple phone numbers to call.
The DTMF signal is then passed to the system and the system sets up the required recording service, and, if required, places multiple calls. The user is only connected to the call, once the service has been set up.
Most handsets have a limitation on the number of DTMF tones that can be sent. This will impact any application. The present example has programmed around this so that there is no limit on the number of DTMF tones that can be sent.
In the case where a user wishes to confirm a reservation, such as a flight reservation, a form or template is loaded up within the handset software application, which provides a selection of menu options or check boxes which enable a user to specify details of the reservation. This information is then translated by the software into a DTMF string. When the user makes the call to the airline to confirm the flight, this string will be routed by the system to the IVR system of the airline company, and the DTMF tones will be able to step through the airline IVR system and thereby confirm the flight. Thus, the user will only here a ringing signal until the system has passed through the airline IVR system and the connected to the final operator who confirms the flight.
All handsets are different, creating many problems with compatibility which affect all developers - including those for ringtones and games. The application described in the present example may be 'ported' onto multiple devices.
Table 1 describes some handset features, benefits and impacts in certain examples.
A global dial-in network
IN an example, the system aggregates local numbers in many countries so that services can usually be accessed via a local call, with low cost and managed quality. The system can track where a call originated and calculate the appropriate tax that applies. For example, for an EU company, calls made within the EU are subject to VAT, whereas calls made from outside the EU are not. The present example makes the cost and tax accounting functions much easier, on multiple services than has ever been possible before.
Table 2 describes some benefits and impacts of the global network in various examples.
A central switching facility
The call handling facility of an example is installed as a plug-in to a network operator's switch or a corporate's voice gateway (PBX or IPBX). Calls coming into the present example's facility are processed and then switched out either on-net (within the operator's environment) or off-net into public telecoms networks (PSTN). Calls are handled in unique ways to improve the customer experience and remove the hassle factor caused by (i) group calls where a line gets trapped in voicemail (ii) calls not answered in time (e.g. the phone is in a woman's handbag or a man's pocket (iii) separate processes for call recording. The system can be scaled to handle unlimited
10 simultaneous calls from multiple countries. This switching centre enables at least the following services to be provided from the same platform:
1 ) Call recording (instant call recording initiation)
2) Dial-out instant group calls (no voice prompts, no waiting, no on-hold time)
/5 3) Dial-out low cost calls to replace calling cards (no complex process, just push and speak)
4) Voice Content (get an interpreter instantly on the line, during or at the start of a call)
5) Text services (send a guaranteed text message from a mobile device and have it delivered to telex, fax or SMS (note normal SMS is a best-effort service with no delivery guarantees).
20 Thus, multiple services are provided.
Figure 7 shows the core switching network.
A new network element is provided (the MPT) based on a carrier grade PC VoIP gateway that is 25 highly resilient and requires minimal rack-space and support:
This gateway MPT is easily integrated with existing network elements and operational and business support systems.
The MPT can connect calls to any number of people, without limitations.
Figure 3 shows the underlying network used to complete calls and deliver data. This particular arrangement is a hub and spoke configuration with a centralized switching hub located in London, United Kingdom.
The Web interface
An example of the system is fully secured and managed through an https web interface. This interface is built and customised to reflect the rules certain customers (e.g. mobile operators and multinationals) want to have in place to give the right people access to the right data and controls. For example, only a finance person will be able to alter anything to do with a user's credit terms or amounts. A reseller of the present example will only be able to see their customers and channels and their management reports, not those of other resellers. This hierarchy of rights defines the scope and permissions of each party who touches the service. The entire system is highly flexible and can be interfaced to other carrier or corporate systems (e.g. billing, finance, customer care, inventories etc.)
Figure 6 shows the web interface.
It is also designed to give the finance and IT departments complete visibility and control on costs and usage profiling:
Table 3 describes some benefits and impacts of the user web interface in this example.
The five steps of the call completion process managed by the handset software are as follows:
Step 1. The mobile handset user opens the application, selects the country of current location and selects a phone contact or contacts to call out to. This person originates the call from an unlimited number of countries worldwide.
Step 2. The call originator then presses the Call option on the phone and the application (not the mobile phone vendor's call application) assembles a DTMF command string and sends it through the global network to the switching centre
Step3. The command string tells the switch where the user is dialling from, authenticates their CLI (Caller Line Identification) and their PIN and verifies that the number(s) to call out to are valid. If the caller is dialling a single number, it will complete with no alert. If the caller is dialling a group of numbers, there will be an alert "you are being placed into a group call". If the caller wants to record a call, a check box is ticked on the interface and this tells the switching centre to initiate a recording. An alert is played to inform all parties that a call is being recorded.
Step 4. The switch then completes the call from the call originator to the party or parties called and manages call quality over a carrier grade global voice network. If the call is going to a third party system with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the system can send DTMF tones so that voice mail can be read and voice menus navigated.
Step 5. At the end of the call, the call originator simply drops the line as if it were a normal phone call and all parties on the call are simultaneously dropped at the same time.
In another example, call flow is as described with reference to Figure 5.
Step 1. Caller opens the application on their mobile phone. Caller then selects their service options within the off-line GUI. Caller pushes the CALL button.
Step 2. Call is carried over GSM or CDMA to a local PSTN number in one of an unlimited number of countries. This takes the call off the mobile network and into the MPT system. The handset software informs the user that the current location is valid as a local call to a local PSTN number. WiFi access to an IP address is also supported.
Step 3. All calls then enter the MPT switching facility. The first network element touched is a switch, called a Softswitch. This has a range of Direct Dialling-ln (DDI) numbers attached that can handle multiple simultaneous calls. Each DDI number on the Softswitch is assigned to a local access country, so that MPT can track and bill call origination as well as termination.
Step 4. The Softswitch then passes the call through to the MPT IVR servers over either ISDN or SIP. Each MPT server has a warm standby back-up unit and each server can support 120 simultaneous calls. In this way high availability and service continuity is maintained.
Step 5. The MPT server then processes the DTMF string that has been sent through from the handset (which is still connected and will now be played a ringing tone). First the MPT server authenticates the user based on phone CLI and PIN number. Next MPT creates the services requested in the DTMF string and fires a dial-out command to the Softswitch .
Step 6. The Softswitch then pushes the call command through to a voice gateway which dials out and completes the calls.
Step 7. Call, call data, billing, customer management, fraud controls, access rights and other data is synchronised with other systems such as billing, customer care, provisioning, finance, management reporting, etc.
Table 4 describes some benefits and impacts of the calling behaviour in certain examples.
Table 5 describes some benefits and impacts of the administration web interface in certain examples.
A further example is now described.
The data program utilised in the present example is intended to be run as an alternative or adjunct to the data program supplied or loaded on the telephone, usually by the main service provider. Therefore, an alternative data program is used to operate the present example.
Turning to Figure 1, there is shown a block diagram of the main features of the data program as required in the present example, each feature usually representing a graphical menu from which several options may be selected by a user. The features of the data program 9 are accessible
through the screen/keys of a telephone 10, having an electronic memory on which the data program 9 is stored and a data processor. A contacts list 11 is provided, and this may be part of the telephone's basic functions or added as part of the present example's features. This contact list 11 is used to share the telephone numbers of intended recipients, and other personal details such as postal and email addresses. Using this function, new contacts may be added or deleted, and the contacts' details may be edited. Further, a telephone call to an individual may be initiated by selection of a contact or number of contacts from this list.
A group menu 12 lists a number of saved groups. A group may consist of an individual or a selection of individuals either entered directly into group menu 12, or selected or exported from the individual contacts stored in contact list 11. From group menu 12, groups may either be added or removed, or a conference call may be made to all of the members of that group simply by selecting the appropriate option located therein. Further, the caller may open up a group detail menu 13, from which an individual contact may be added into or deleted from a particular group. Individual contact details may be exported from contact list 11 into a group from the group detail menu 13.
Once a call has been made, the details of the call, for example the duration of the call, the participants in that call and a breakdown of the expenses of that call will be logged on the electronic memory of telephone 10. These details may be accessed via the call log menu 14.
Figure 2 shows the steps of a call made using the data program using the method of the present example. With reference to both Figures 1 and 2, a telephone call made by the method of the present example will now be described. A caller switches on or otherwise activates their telephone 10 and selects the alternative service provider by initiating data program 9. Once the data program 9 has been initiated, the caller 8 selects their country of current origin from the list of countries at step 15 and then either from the contact list 11 or the group list 12 they select the recipient or recipients 19-22 that they wish to call. Selection of the country origin may be activated on an automatic basis or based on a default setting.
The data program generates a command string 23 including the details of the recipients 19-22 to be called which is sent based on the indication of country through local PSTN lines and/or local mobile networks to a first local hub 16 in the country of origin. The command string 23 is then directed to a central switching hub 17, where the command string 23 confirms with the central switching hub 17 and the local hub 16 the country of the caller's location and authenticates the caller's line identification using a PIN, and verifies that the recipients' contact numbers are valid. Once these have been validated the central switching hub 17 routes the call to a second local hub or hubs 18 in the country or countries of the recipients. The second local
hubs 18 establish a local call from the caller to (in this example) the 1st to 3rd recipients 19-21 , so the call is connected from the originating telephone 10 to the recipients 19-21. The 4th recipient 22 is located in the same country as the caller, and so the first local hub 16 is notified by the central switching hub 17 and calls the 4th recipient 22. The central switching hub 17 further manages the quality of the call over the telephone network.
Figure 4 shows the Handset Software Menu System and Flow.
The handset assembles a command string, which is used to provide details of the required services. For example:
+441276612345p*12345679*1*2*06** = call local UK number, pause 2 seconds, tell the MPT who I am from my PIN, tell the server to activate recording, add a translator to the line then dial out the pre-strored group code 06 (e.g a sales team) then lock the call with * so no other parties can access.
+6565431234p*12345679*6618762345*12021234567*6567363737*622127373737*442071234 6737*446216161667*818288888** = call a local Singapore number, pause 2 seconds, tell MPT who you are from your PIN, then call these ad-hoc 7 numbers at once and * to lock the call
+1202365431234p*12345679*8*1*6*77*6074318361991** = Call a local number in US, pause 2 seconds, then tell MPT who I am from my PIN, then tell MPT that this is an airline reservation (8), so get ready to translate and direct the DTMF to a reservation system, 1 = I clicked economy, 6 = I need to be flying today, 77 = SQ (Singapore Airlines), 6074318361991 = my current ticket number. * = lock securely and connect the call... The system is integrated so that confirmation data generated by the reservation system can then be transferred back to the user's phone and displayed neatly within the application as an electronic confirmation document.
Once the telephone call has been completed, the caller 8 drops the line, which causes all recipient 19 lines to be dropped simultaneously. The caller 8 is billed only in respect of local calls in the countries of the recipients. The expensive and low quality roaming or international calls are avoided.
The local hubs and central switching hub 17 may be interconnected in any suitable way. It is preferred that they communicate via data networks such as the Internet.
Whether the user is using a network based on GSM, CDMA, TDMA, AMPS, 3G, GPRS, or any of the 802.11 , 802.16 and 16e, 802.20 network technologies, the solution according to the
present example will be able to create and manage a user-friendly call into a local network access point, giving access to multiple services, instantly. This access point could be an Internet address or a local PSTN number. Once the user has connected to the local access point, the application according to the present example transfers a DTMF command string to the global switch which then completes the call or data transfer required by the user.
Table 6 describes some advantages of certain examples of the invention over current state-of- the-art:
The present example may, for example, be implemented either:
1. On-net as an enterprise CPE solution, linked to an existing PBX solution, where it can be J - Used with any Cellular network
- Linked to existing PBX
- Inbound Call captured through global WiFi and SIP based network access
- Outbound calls delivered on-net or off-net at low bulk fixed line rates OR 0 2. Carrier hosted as a premium service from any mobile carrier, where
- Telco fixed-line rates on mobile roaming calls
- Global access network provided
- On-demand, low capex, outsourced solution
5 This method of communications is built into (i) a PC based conferencing bridge (ii) a single handset software interface (iii) a global network of PSTN numbers.
0 In one example, the central switching facility hardware may be realised as a computer running the Linux operating system. This hardware may be made fault-tolerant by measures which are well known in the prior art, such as: mirroring of identical units; providing backup and storage of call and user data; defining and documenting fault escalation processes; reporting on capacity, users, traffic and revenues; provision of a help line, preferably available 24x7 and with a 5 message taking facility.
Links may be made over Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). In one example, the channels may be connected over ISDN rather than SIP, thereby providing higher call quality at the expense of fewer available channels. 0
For a connection made over ISDN, the connection may be made over the 64K (voice) channel, thereby leaving the data channel available for other services such as voice + images, gaming and video calls.
5 The web interface may be written in the PHP programming language.
A number of advantages of various examples are:
• Low cost access into the corporate network via a local GSM call or WiFi access. • Substitution of mobile operator call termination costs with a mix of on-net and off-net termination via fixed-line costs.
• Substitution of off-net dial-in roaming calls into conference bridges with dial-out calls completed on-net or via lower fixedline costs from the PBX.
• Substitution of calling cards which are usually blocked on mobile networks, leaving the mobile user with no option except a roaming call.
• Employee benefit of cheaper calls home.
Controls and Security
• Caller pays for all calls, so costs are consolidated onto one bill, making it easier to track and allocate conferencing costs.
• Credit limits can be set to control spend.
• Employee personal calls easily separated from business calls.
• Finance, IT and HR can all be given access rights to track usage, manage costs and ensure ex-employees are removed from the system immediately. • Higher security is achieved than with a dial-in conference call. This is because the caller has total control over who is on the call. There is no potential for eavesdropping due to shared PINs or security lapses.
• For a high level of web interface security we use active web pages in PHP which include $_SESSION variables for user authentication on all pages. These variables provide a level of security that cannot be accessed by rogue users. We do not pass any sensitive parameters via the browser URL that can be 'Sniffed' to gain access to the system.
• IT and finance can profitably charge back call costs or add a margin. Routes charged less than cost are flagged in red.
• Real time, on-line billing makes it easier to account and charge back call costs to projects, departments and to separate personal from business calls.
• Call recording functionality enables compliance with the Financial Services Authority requirements on mobile calls.
Efficiency and Ease of Use • Time saved from navigating IVRs and arranging conference calls can be better invested in core business activities.
• One simple, intuitive handset interface with just one process for all functions so very simple to roll-out.
• For conference calls there are no IVR voice prompts, no mobile barred 0800 numbers, no shared PINs, no arrangements. Just call and speak, instantly.
• To save money on roaming and overseas calls, there is need to SIM swap and no contract breaking. • Easy to load onto phones over the air or from a PC link.
• Easy for the caller to add additional parties to a call.
• Easy for the caller to drop lines that have gone to voicemail.
• Easy to record a call and retrieve it later on-line or via a hyperlink in an e-mail.
• Easy to integrate with existing IMS, PBX, financial systems and operational support systems.
• All called parties can be informed that they are being placed in a group call and/or are being recorded..
• Easier to get conversations minuted by making an audio recording.
• Easy to coordinate teams over a mobile, especially in emergency situations and Business Continuity Planning (BCP).
Examples of the present invention are useful in any situation where people and projects need to be managed remotely over a mobile phone. A number of applications for various examples of the present invention include:
An example gives project managers the instant access to teams, clients and advisors that boosts efficiency and productivity. Travelling decision-makers and project leaders can connect from anywhere to get instant, firsthand updates, deliver crucial information, manage risk and monitor important decision making processes.
An example provides 24-hour access to the tools and people needed to respond to any crisis swiftly and successfully. When disruptions occur to normal business flow, quick, efficient resolution is essential. This example enables an organization to disseminate information immediately and consistently to employees and clients in dispersed locations. In addition, since all calls are locked, This example provides a very secure forum for discussing any confidential information.
Regular group calls are a great source of stability in the hectic lives of a sales team as well as being an effective way to distribute and collect valuable sales data. Meetings will happen more regularly, because all the caller needs is a mobile phone. Sales Team uses include Product
Training, Motivation Meetings, "Strategy Swaps", Account Planning and news and experience sharing
Problem Solving Instant group calls are a very effective way for professionals to discuss issues and seek advice. Whether it is doctors, lawyers, auditors, or any other professional, there are many instances where ideas need to be discussed when they are fresh and an instant group call makes this possible. Call recording means that important calls can be recorded to be minuted or referred to later.
Dispute Avoidance and Resolution
On any call where an agreement is made or a action decided, there is always scope for disagreement on what was said. Mobile call recording through This removes any justification for breaking verbal agreements, just as saved e-mails help avoid disputes over written agreements.
Various examples enable users of mobile devices to:
• Make instant calls to groups around the world • Securely record and retrieve important conversations
• Save money on overseas call costs
In particular, in preferred examples, at least the following features are provided:
• On-Net call savings to any mobile or landline • On-Net call security to any mobile or landline
• Premium call quality on-net or via a carrier
• Single interface so all services made simple
• Same SIM card
• 2 levels of security: ID PIN & CLI • Call recording from mobile
• Clear costs & savings
• Finance & IT view and controls
• Auto redial
• Familiar GSM calling process
• Mobile access PSTN & WiFi
In overview, an example of the system works in the following way
The system enables a user to connect to any landline or mobile number, only the caller needs to have the application and there is no need to change SIM cards or carriers. This application is designed to be as simple as possible for the user.
In particular, the user opens the application, selects required services and then selects a party to call. Following selection of the required service, the system automatically sets up the service and provides the required service to the user during the call.
Benefits to users
• As instant and spontaneous as your time and needs dictate. This system delivers the unique experience of a genuinely instant group call. You press call and within seconds all the phone numbers you called will ring
• Very simple to use: just like a normal phone call
• Highly reliable and with exceptional voice quality
• Call recording with retrieval and play back on-line or via corporate e-mail or voicemail
• Comfort factor of alerts to all parties that call recording or group calls are being conducted
• You are in control of who is on the call and the cost of the call
Benefits to carriers
A fixed-mobile convergence product. Licensees can generate new premium revenues, capturing call minutes from mobiles:
• Higher APRU from current customer base
• New recurring revenues from new customers, regardless of their SIM card or network
• Enables branding on the screen of any supported mobile device, regardless of SIM card
Target end users
Targeted at high end corporate customers who value their time as well as cost savings. For example:
• A consulting Partner who needs to manage multiple teams
• A Sales Director who needs to brief and coordinate a regional team
• An IT manager who needs a rapid response for Business Continuity Planning
• A trader who needs to keep recordings of all phone calls
• A project manager who needs to cut a high roaming bill
How it is sold
Can either be sold on-demand or installed on-net Can be sold by a licensee either as:
• An on-demand solution. This is the simplest solution for customers who would prefer a fully out-sourced, off-net service from a mobile carrier • A packaged on-net solution, ideal for IPBX. This can save millions by replacing mobile call costs with free on-net and low cost off-net call rates. In addition the customer improves security and reliability by managing the service from within their own network. The licensee makes money on call volumes, bridging, off-net rates and hardware
0 Example Handsets
Supports mobile devices compliant with J2ME™, Symbian™, MS Mobile™ or BlackBerry™ standards. In particular, support for at least the following 30 devices is provided:
BlackBerry™: 8700, 7100, 7230, 7290
Nokia™: E60, E61, 6230, 3220, 6670, 6260, 7610, 6280, 6020, 6021, 6270, 7260, 5140
Sony Ericsson™: K750i, W800, K700i, K600i, V600i, K500i, K300, J300, K508, K608i, Z300,
Z1010. S700, S710, V800 New mobiles are being continually developed for support:
MS Mobile V5™, Nokia™ 9300, 6630, 6680, N70
In addition we partially support (i.e. these phones can dial one number, record a call or use a group code, but cannot support ad hoc groups):
Nokia™: 623Oi, 514Oi, 6600 Motorola™: E398, V3I, V3x, PEBL, SLVR, V220
ii) Core switching
Calls are connected via a PC based CallHandler soft-switch. Functionality includes:
• Set-up of pre-set group codes • Automatic redial after first attempt
Caller can select to drop any line that goes into a voicemail system Caller can add additional parties onto a call at any time No technical limitation on the number of simultaneous calls supported Storage of voice recordings as wav files of up to 2 Gigs or 34 hours per file
iii) Web, interface
Provides a web-based customer care system:
• Simple, secure sign-on and registration
• Multiple levels of administration for ease of control
• Setting of credit limits for post-paid and top-up for pre-paid
Access to all call billing, payment, group codes and handset software downloads
Table 7 describes some benefits of call acceptance and completion in this example.
It will be understood that the present invention has been described above purely by way of example, and modifications of detail can be made within the scope of the invention.
Each feature disclosed in the description, and (where appropriate) the claims and drawings may be provided independently or in any appropriate combination.