WO2009063093A2 - Communications network - Google Patents

Communications network Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2009063093A2
WO2009063093A2 PCT/EP2008/065689 EP2008065689W WO2009063093A2 WO 2009063093 A2 WO2009063093 A2 WO 2009063093A2 EP 2008065689 W EP2008065689 W EP 2008065689W WO 2009063093 A2 WO2009063093 A2 WO 2009063093A2
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WO
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Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
network
mobile station
ip address
mobile
service provider
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2008/065689
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French (fr)
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WO2009063093A3 (en )
Inventor
Christopher G. Lowery
Original Assignee
Klap Worldwide Corp. Ltd.
Dybwad, Adrian
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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    • 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 contains provisionally no documents
    • H04L29/12Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00 contains provisionally no documents characterised by the data terminal contains provisionally no documents
    • H04L29/12009Arrangements for addressing and naming in data networks
    • H04L29/12207Address allocation
    • H04L29/12283Address allocation involving aspects of pools of addresses, e.g. assignment of different pools of addresses to different Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol [DHCP] servers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L61/00Network arrangements or network protocols for addressing or naming
    • H04L61/20Address allocation
    • H04L61/2061Address allocation involving aspects of pools of addresses, e.g. assignment of different pools of addresses to different dynamic host configuration protocol [DHCP] servers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/12Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/70Services for machine-to-machine communication [M2M] or machine type communication [MTC]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W8/00Network data management
    • H04W8/26Network addressing or numbering for mobility support
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W80/00Wireless network protocols or protocol adaptations to wireless operation, e.g. WAP [Wireless Application Protocol]
    • H04W80/04Network layer protocols, e.g. mobile IP [Internet Protocol]

Abstract

The present invention relates to a mobile communications network comprising package switched communication ability, the network comprising: one or several mobile stations, one or several service providers, providing communication with said mobile stations, one or several users, communicating with said mobile stations, wherein the mobile communications network is arranged to assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address by means of a server, which is arranged to map a (private) network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address and store the address in a SIM card, separate from or embedded into the mobile station which can also contain information relating to the APNs of one or more service provider networks which can be remotely designated by the server using the fixed IP address of the mobile station as a constant means of connectivity.

Description

TITLE

Communications network

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a communications network, especially a mobile communications system, and in particular a package switched network, such as a GPRS, 3G or EDGE or other cellular based or satellite communications network for the two way transmission and real time management of data travelling between mobile devices over networks operated by service providers in more than one country.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The number of users of mobile networks and services is increasing rapidly and users are becoming more and more reliant on global services. The services provided by the network operators and other service providers calls for the present system of providing service in foreign countries, by using "roaming" partners, to be faster, simpler, more reliable and secure and less costly to the user.

GSM, GPRS and 3G are all dependent upon the operator in the country of origin. This means that usage of the service outside of that operator's footprint requires interconnection between the operator of origin and a roaming partner in the country where the user requires service. This handover of service between operators is often a complicated and error prone solution for the operators and an expensive solution for the user. Often it provides insufficient security or even loss of critical data transmission.

Seamless, secure handover is also required when service is required outside of cellular footprints. In such a case transfer of service may require handover to a non-cellular network, for example a satellite network, followed subsequently by return of service to a cellular network in another country.

Since the advent of wireless M2M, (Machine to Machine communications), data travelling over cellular networks is often valuable, confidential and business critical information which must conform to levels of privacy, security and reliability beyond that required for voice, SMS and other GSM transmissions. Although service providers will attempt to provide a similar service in the country of roaming to that in their own country, this can and often does fail. An example is a roaming partner for GPRS whose network is for some reason not properly configured for the handover, or which does not communicate correctly with the SIM in the roaming device. In such a case, the device may be directed by the roaming network to a GSM connection instead of GPRS, with consequent substantial increase in costs of transmission of data and issues of reliability and security.

Billing technology and calculation of costs between operators is not completely flawless or consistent and errors can occur which cause losses to the operator and which require that the user pays a premium for using service outside of the original operator's network footprint to compensate the risk and cost of error.

Direct connection of a user device to the local operator in a different country will avoid the use of a roaming partner. This solution is valuable and cost effective for manufacturers of devices which are shipped to be deployed and activated in various countries, or which continually move across international borders and networks. Accurate identification and authentication of a device by the network and by other devices ensures maximum security of critical business data. Handover of connection from a cellular to a satellite network will provide seamless control and management of data even outside of cellular network footprints.

Future development of global M2M wireless applications will result in very large numbers of devices under remote management in various territories. The desire of companies to develop more and more solutions to expand their enterprise WAN or LAN to include all remote devices is a new phenomenon described as improving Time to Market and these companies are labelled as Real Time Enterprises.

WO 05/112399 by the same applicant relates to a mobile communications network comprising package switched communication ability. The network comprises: one or several mobile stations, a service provider, providing communication with said mobile stations, a user, communicating with said mobile stations, wherein the mobile communications network is arranged to assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address by means of a server, which is arranged to map a (private) network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address.

Constant two-way access to and from these devices is necessary in order to provide the real time data required to improve business logistics and create a viable ROI on the cost of deploying such a network of devices. The continuous monitoring and management of many thousands of devices in many countries around the world requires a more inventive technological approach than is presently available. WO 05/112399 (PCT/SE2005/000710) provides a solution to the problem that no public internet addresses are sufficiently available, public internet addresses have to be duplicated via port sharing (PAT), timesharing (NAT), applications sharing (proxy) or by other methods. Such public internet addresses suffer from insufficient security. Devices using public IP addresses can be targeted by spam distributors and are vulnerable to other third party intervention. Public IP addresses are dynamic and can not be maintained after data sessions are terminated. Users are required to create network solutions to map new addresses after interruption of communications to mobile devices.

The solution eliminates this problem by seamlessly mapping private Fixed IP addresses to all devices connected to the network to initiate transmission to or from the device or to request devices to initiate transmission amongst themselves, as each device has a fixed IP address, and thus the identity remains constant and is known always to the network and to all other devices. This constant identity provides a fixed point of connection which eliminates user network solutions for wireless connections and provides security by an authenticated handshake since it appears to the network to be a fixed line device.

The private IP address is created within the Internet domain and not by constant recourse to the service provider. The network public IP address is mapped seamlessly by the mobile communications network to the private address through the service provider's network to the device. The mapping can be done using a proxy server. Preferably, this IP address is connected to a unique identity of the device. The unique identity may be International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of said mobile station. In this solution, the device comprises a SIM card which stores the fixed IP address and provides instructions for accelerated and secure communication.

In addition the mobile communications network provides the ability to manage all devices individually from a web based management display over the public Internet. A back office function will allow a two-way Internet protocol (IP) tunnel to be setup between any devices connected to the network and any service connected to a server which allows 3rd parties to switch on/off and monitor traffic through the network.

This solution is restricted to connection to a single service provider and does not resolve the problem of "roaming" outside the original network footprint and thus is not the most cost effective or reliable solution for devices which are deployed in various countries or devices attached to mobile assets which may move across international borders and networks.

The solution does not provide for the transfer of connectivity of a mobile station or device from one selected cellular service provider's network to another when required because of reception coverage problems or when designated by the network for any given reason e.g. to transfer from a roaming connection to a local connection .

The mobile communications network is arranged to assign devices with a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address by means of a server, which is arranged to map private network IP addresses seamlessly to the device. The private network address is created by the communications network when required in accordance with Class Full IP Addressing and thus requires constant creation of IP addresses as a part of the IP address allocation procedure and thus becomes complex in the event of the mobile communications network being connected to many network operators and many devices .

The solution becomes complex and cumbersome from an operational viewpoint when many devices and service providers are connected to the network, because the creation and mapping of private IP addresses through the service provider to the devices becomes a constantly recurring process which may affect the network efficiency and data transmission or network response rate. The solution does not foresee the transfer of ability to allocate fixed IP addresses to a third party user.

The solution does not foresee an arrangement for the reallocation of IP addresses between devices if and when necessary.

The solution does not provide an inventive way of efficiently monitoring and managing many devices located in or travelling between many countries.

The solution does not respond to service requirements which are outside of the footprints of cellular network operators.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

What is needed is a true two-way secure, real time, efficient and multi-standard mobile communication network, with ability of connecting to GSM, GPRS, UMTS or 3G networks operated by local operators in many different countries and managing services and connectivity of many devices connected to dedicated package based networks without requiring roaming arrangements, or capable of being connected to roaming or local partners of choice by the network from a single point of entry and control. Such an invention is valuable, innovative and necessary in view of the substantial increase in global M2M wireless applications.

Consequently, a first aspect of the invention is the ability to interconnect a mobile network to many service providers' networks by using their dedicated Access Point Nodes, (APNs), and to manage each of these interconnects individually and simultaneously to provide access by third party users to any or all of these operators' networks individually and simultaneously from one fixed point of access.

A second aspect of the invention is the ability to assign a private Fixed IP address to all devices connected to the mobile network which is unique and unchanging irrespective of to which operator's network the device is connected. In this way wireless devices appear to the user's network to be connected by fixed line. Such addresses are made available to the third party users of the network to provide secure and immediate authentication of each device in real time for control and management of all devices and the data flowing through them and through the operators' networks.

According to a third aspect of the invention, the network is arranged with the ability to create, manage and store private fixed IP addresses and allocate them to users in batches to map them to mobile devices without each time creating new addresses in the allocation procedure and to provide the user with a management procedure which can be scaled to the growing number of devices and operators' networks requiring management.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention the network is arranged with the ability to manage hand over of service from one cellular service provider to another, or to a satellite or other mobile network outside of the cellular networks' global footprint seamlessly whilst maintaining the IP addresses of the devices unique and constant.

According to a fifth aspect of the invention the mobile station or device may be equipped with a special SIM card which is pre-profiled with a number of dedicated APN identities of service providers whose network is interconnected to the mobile network and which can be selected by the network when required by accessing the fixed IP address of the SIM card in the device.

According to a sixth aspect of the invention a network is provided allowing a two-way Internet protocol (IP) tunnel to be set up between any third party user, any device installed with a special SIM card and any service connected to a server. The data travelling between the device and server can be encrypted and compressed, and the device can be directly controlled and managed by the user, who consequently has direct access to the fixed IP address of all devices, thus providing an increased simplicity of operation, increased speed of transmission, reduced cost of transmission and increased security of transmission.

According to the seventh aspect of the invention, the network is interlinked to the public Internet so that the data can then be retransmitted from the server in IP form over the public Internet and provided to the ultimate customer in the form of a web based display. The data may be organized by a back office function incorporated in the network and provided to the ultimate customer in the form desired. Access to the data may be limited in accordance with priorities established by the customer. The current offering by most operators allowing General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) connectivity is that they are only offering a one-way transmission service, from the device to the server and not the other way. Most of the interactive wireless applications being developed for Machine to Machine (M2M) communications depend on a true two-way communication tunnel to be setup. This is not feasible at the present due to security, latency and network resource.

European Patent Application No.05742645.4 provides a solution to these problems by the deployment of a series of gateway devices, that can be used to interface GPRS to any of presently available and future standards, such as: Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), Bluetooth, Infrared, RS232, TCP/IP (Transport layer Protocol/Internet Protocol), VoIP (Voice IP), Low power radio (LPR), RFID and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) i.e. dial tone, etc.

This solution foresees the possibility of multiple interconnections of gateway devices to create a data network, very much like a cellular network, to overcome the above problems and provide a true two-way secure, real time, efficient and multi-standard connection. The solution requires a two-way Internet protocol (IP) tunnel to be setup between any devices connected to the gateway and any service connected to a server.

This method requires the deployment of many gateway devices to provide a network for the capture of data from small, short range devices and is thus similar to a physical infrastructure suitable for metering, data logging and monitoring applications.

The solution is suitable to permit the structuring of a remote automated measuring system over a wide geographical area, each gateway device connected to many data monitoring devices and then interconnected with many other gateway devices.

The solution is not suitable for global, roaming or sophisticated applications which are resolved by the present invention by using the creation, management and assignment of private fixed IP addresses to organize many devices in many geographical territories connected to many service providers' networks and using those networks for global data transmission and management of devices. Moreover, the invention provides for:

Global choice of local networks using multiple dedicated APNs, Ability to ship and deploy devices from a central manufacturing or shipping source pre-tested and pre-equipped to connect to a local network in the country of use,

Ability to pre-test devices on the selected network and ship and deploy them in "sleeping mode", to be woken up and activated remotely when in the users' hands.

Allocation to devices of private Fixed IP addresses linked to many local networks from a centrally managed pool by Dynamic Hosting Control Protocol and not by creating addresses at the time of each allocation, Ability to reallocate unused IP addresses, thus using available IP addresses in the most efficient and economical fashion, Ability to connect devices remotely to the selected network upon activation in another country and to remotely assign or reassign the Fixed IP address allocated to that device from a centrally managed pool, Ability to assign a single fixed IP address to any device which can be transferred between networks and will be recognised and authenticated by those networks, - Ability to apply a number of APN profiles corresponding to several service providers onto a single SIM card,

Ability of the SIM card in the device to communicate to the network the APN of the service provider currently connected to the SIM, Ability by the network to instruct the SIM card to select a designated APN in accordance with predetermined or dynamic rules in response to information received from the SIM card,

Ability of the network to recognise the Fixed IP address of the SIM card in the device and to match it to the APN profile of the service providers' network, Ability to segregate and manage batches of IP addresses by network and by user within network with secure ring-fencing to prevent unauthorised access and ensure authentication and security,

Use of a web based management suite accessible by the user to assume management of the storage, allocation and reallocation of IP addresses and remote activation and device and data management, - Extension of the users' network recognition from fixed line to mobile devices without requiring network solutions for communications with mobile devices, Single point of network entry and single technology standard for global use, Adaptability for all existing and future standards, including GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, 3G etc.,

Ability to maintain the IP address of the device in handover to other cellular or non-cellular networks, e.g. satellite networks.

For these reasons, a mobile communications network is provided comprising package switched communication ability, the network comprising: one or many mobile stations, any number of connected service providers, providing communication with said mobile stations, one or more users, communicating with said mobile stations, wherein the mobile communications network is arranged to connect to all service providers and mobile stations simultaneously and assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address by means of a router, a firewall and a server, which are arranged to create, manage and map private network IP addresses seamlessly to any number of mobile stations through any of the service providers' networks.

Preferably, said private IP address is connected to a unique identity of said mobile station. The unique identity may be International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of said mobile station. Moreover, the mobile station may comprise a SIM card profiled with the APNs of one or more service provider and provided with instructions for accelerated communication and security and capable of receiving and storing a private fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address through a service provider's network.

Preferably, said private IP addresses are previously created in batches and are stored and managed within the mobile communications network, available to a user, separately from batches of IP addresses created for other users.

Preferably, a back office management function provides the user with direct access to the IP address storage, allocation, reallocation and general control of all IP addresses applicable to the users' devices wherever they may be located.

Preferably the private fixed IP addresses are created with a common address across all networks, the distinguishing identity being the APN of the service provider profiled in the SIM and selected by the network. The invention also relates to a mobile station, for use in the aforementioned network. The mobile station comprises package switched communication ability to communicate with the said network, comprising: at least one unique identity arrangement, at least one encryption arrangement, at least one GPRS modem device. The mobile station further comprises means for receiving a private fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is mapped to it by the communications network. The unique identity arrangement is a SIM card or an identity chip which is profiled with the APNs of one or more of the service providers which are interconnected to the mobile network. The IP address can be used and connected to a unique identity which is created and managed by the mobile communications network. The unique identity can be International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of said mobile station and is used to identify the mobile station. The unique identity is carried in the SIM card in the device and can be further identified by attaching the APN of the service providers whose profiles are designated in the SIM card.

The invention also relates to a router, a firewall and a server for use in the aforementioned network. The router is arranged to manage connections and data transmission between any number of service providers and any number of user devices. The firewall and server comprise a package operating system and hardware, means for storing and managing information about connected networks and mobile stations and fixed private and public IP addresses, said server comprising: instruction set to control data and communication parameters, instruction set for encryption/decryption of data, instruction set for compression/decompression of data, instruction set for managing, selecting and providing connection to service providers, instruction set for storage, management and selection of IP addresses related to the users' mobile stations, instruction set for geo-fencing users' mobile stations by reference to their IP address. The server is arranged to provide access to information about the networks, the router and customer data base. The firewall and the server are arranged to create and manage IP addresses and map them seamlessly to devices remotely via the router through the service provider networks. The mapping can be done using a proxy server. The server may be part of the network arranged as a gateway to additional connectivity. The mapping capability can be assigned to the user by the web based management suite accessible by the user to assume management of the remote activation, assignment of the fixed IP address and subsequent management of the connection between the service providers' networks and the users' devices. The invention also relates to a router which manages the various connections between the server, the service providers and the mobile stations and the data which is flowing through the server and which is arranged to map the IP addresses to the devices through the service providers' networks.

The invention also relates to a server, a firewall and a router which are arranged to transfer a fixed IP address allocated to a special SIM card in a mobile station from one service provider to another remotely and seamlessly.

Preferably the mobile network may use the fixed IP address of the SIM card in the device to receive and transmit information concerning the connectivity of the device to one or more designated service providers by reference to the APN connection.

The mobile station may be equipped with one or more than one SIM card, each of which may be attributed to different service providers connected to the mobile network by the APN profiles which are pre-designated in the SIM cards.

The simplest example is a mobile station which has dual SIM cards, one of which carries the APN profile of a cellular service provider and the other the APN profile of a satellite carrier, both of which are connected to the mobile network and both carry the same fixed IP address, differentiated by the APN profile of the network.

In this case the mobile station itself may be programmed with instructions if the existing cellular or other network connectivity becomes unavailable at any moment in time. If the device is inside a cellular footprint area it will be instructed to connect to the service provider network designated by the APN profile in the cellular SIM card.

If the device is outside a cellular footprint area it will be instructed to connect to the service provider network designated by the APN profile in the non-cellular SIM card. If this is a satellite provider, the device will transfer its connection to the second SIM card, which is profiled with the APN of the satellite network.

The mobile station will maintain quasi permanent connection to the network by using its fixed IP address, which is also carried by the second SIM card. The fixed IP address will remain constant to the network, having only the APN of the service provider temporarily attached to it during its sojourn in that footprint.

When the device returns to the cellular footprint, the reverse procedure will take place, the device having maintained virtually seamless connectivity to the mobile network via each of the two SIMs, irrespective of the networks being cellular or satellite by using its fixed IP address.

As can be seen, this example relies upon instructions which are programmed in the mobile station itself.

A second example is a mobile station which has a single SIM card which carries the APN profiles of a number of cellular service providers which are connected to the mobile network.

The SIM card can be a separate card which is carried in a slot in the device, as in the case of mobile phones and typical wireless data devices. It can also be imprinted, or stamped onto, or embedded directly into the mobile device itself. This is practised by certain manufacturers of mobile devices which are used in applications which may suffer from excessive vibration or other extreme working conditions. In this type of manufacturing process, the SIM, or Chip, is hard wired into the cellular module.

Preferably the SIM card will carry a private fixed IP address assigned by the mobile network which will be the same address across all operator networks connected to the mobile network.

Preferably the SIM card will be programmed with instructions whereby it will transmit and receive information concerning the connectivity of the device to one or more designated service providers by reference to the operator network APN.

The SIM card will send and receive said information by using its fixed IP address to ensure constant connectivity and unique, unchanging identity.

If the device is inside a cellular footprint area the SIM card is programmed to connect directly to the APN profile of the service provider network designated by the mobile network. Normally in the case of a roaming connection, this connectivity will be supplied via the interconnection between the service provider of origin and that of the local operator of the territory in which the device is located. The SIM will be instructed to connect to the partner of choice by means of the interconnect arrangement between the service providers. The original service provider may be interconnected to more than one roaming partner and the partner with the strongest signal will most likely be connected.

The invention provides a means for the SIM card in the mobile station to receive instructions to disconnect from the roaming partner and to connect to the APN of a designated local service provider who is connected to the mobile network.

An example would be a special SIM card which carries the APN profiles of 6 service providers, numbered 1 to 6. When the device connects to an operator network in the area in which it is located, it will communicate the APN of that carrier to the mobile network. The mobile network is arranged in such a way that it will identify from the APN received in which country the device is located, for example APN no. 2, which may be, for example, T-MOBILE roaming partner, TELEFONICA roaming service, MEXICO. If the APN communicated by the SIM card does not correspond to the appropriate carrier designated by the mobile network in that area, for example because the local carrier is interconnected directly to the mobile network, the mobile network will instruct the SIM card to connect to, for example APN no. 4, which may correspond to Telefonica, Mexico, local network.

The SIM card will then search for the connection to that APN and will connect to the local network of that carrier. It will then confirm to the network its new connection status. The mobile station will maintain permanent connection to the network by using its fixed IP address. The fixed IP address of the SIM card and therefore of the device will remain constant, having only the APN of the service provider temporarily attached to it during its sojourn in that footprint.

Because these various APNs correspond to carrier networks which are directly interconnected to the mobile network, the SIM card can connect to the local network, avoiding roaming arrangements, and the user will benefit from increased efficiency, speed of transmission and response and substantially lower transmission costs. Because the user has a single point of connection into the mobile network, he does not have to cope with the operational vagaries and contractual complications of multiple operators, or the administrative control and the costs of roaming arrangements. By maintaining constant contact with each device through the fixed IP address in the SIM card and by managing the APN interconnects between the various service provider networks and the devices the mobile network handles the connection, disconnection and hand over procedures seamlessly and cost effectively without intervention from the user.

In addition, via the public Internet the back office management capability provides the user with full visibility and control of his remote assets and with organised data reports without the user necessarily being aware of possible transfers of devices between carriers to facilitate and reduce the costs of his user experience.

The mobile network is also arranged to prevent a mobile device from connecting to a roaming signal which is not suited to its requirements. An example of this is if a network, designated as a roaming partner by a service provider for GPRS connectivity, fails to provide a sufficient signal, then the roaming network may substitute a GSM signal for the device to connect to.

As described above, the communication between the SIM card and the mobile network will permit the transfer of the device connection to the appropriate GPRS partner, as designated in the SIM card and the mobile network. This will reduce transmission costs and increase security for the user.

The invention also relates to a method for providing package switched communication ability in a mobile communications network. The method comprises the steps of: arranging one or several mobile stations, through more than one service provider, providing communication with said mobile stations, allowing a user to communicate with said mobile stations, and arranging the mobile communications network to assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address contained in a special SIM card and using the IP address capability to communicate with the mobile stations to select the APN of a designated service provider connected to the mobile network and profiled in the special SIM card in the mobile station. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following, the invention will be further described in a non-limiting way with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. 1 schematically illustrates a mobile communication network according to the present invention, Fig. 2 is a schematic illustration of a mobile station according to the present invention, equipped with either one or more SIMs Fig. 3 is a general block diagram of the invention,

Fig. 4 is a diagram of a connection between the network and a device containing a special SIM profiled with the APNs of several network operators.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Briefly, the invention relates to the ability to utilise Internet capabilities within a communications network in order to seamlessly manage service providers' connectivity to mobile devices and "attach" them to the designated service provider. The system according to one preferred embodiment comprises: - More than one (standard) GPRS network, which can be provided by any mobile operator,

More than one non GPRS network which can be a satellite network and can be provided by any non GPRS or satellite network operator, More than one (standard) GPRS modem engine, - More than one special SIM card, which can be provided by any manufacturer, or which may be embedded into the modem engine.

One basic gap in the existing GPRS offers ability in the Internet domain to provide the Fixed IP address without constant recourse to the service provider. The invention uses Fixed IP addresses to create a permanent link between the Internet and wireless domains.

Fig. 1 illustrates a communications network 100 according to the invention. The communications network 100 comprises a number of service providers 110a-1 10e, operator networks 120a-120e, a number of mobile stations 130a-130e and a number of clients' sites 140a-140c. The operator networks 120a - 12Oe may be any of a mobile or cellular communications network such as GSM, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) or Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), or the like. The operator network allows package-based communication. An operator network, e.g. 12Oe, can also be a non- cellular network such as a satellite network.

The mobile stations 130a-130e may comprise any type of communication devices adapted for communication with the operator's network. Thus, a mobile station may comprise a transceiver, transmitter, camera, and may be part of a mobile phone, computer, PDA, goods distribution automat 13Od, monitoring camera 130c, credit card reader 130b, measuring/monitoring devices 130a such as electricity meter, alarms, etc. Each mobile station 230, as illustrated in the exemplary embodiment of Fig. 2, comprises a SIM card 342, a communication part 341 , and an antenna 343. Besides the mobile stations comprise or are controlled by a processor in an ordinary fashion including memory and other parts needed for the control of the mobile station. The SIM card is a modified card according to the invention and includes, e.g. instruction set for compression, encrypted communication, the fixed IP address and the APN profiles of service providers which are connected to the network. The SIM card may comprise other functionalities not relevant for the invention. The SIM card may be imprinted on or embedded directly into the body of the mobile station or modem. The compression provides accelerated data communication. The encryption and compression are provided to the SIM card, e.g. from the server.

The mobile stations can be used as a mobile phone or as transmitter/receiver attached to monitoring or control devices, such as for fire detectors, CCTV cameras, alarms, controllers, measuring units, robots, EPOS swipe card devices, vehicle telematics equipment, etc.

Each mobile station is provided with a fixed IP address. The Fixed IP address is connected to a unique identity of the mobile station, e.g. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number or a hardware identity of the mobile station. IMEI is a unique number given to every single mobile station. IMEI numbers of cellular phones connected to a network are stored in a database (EIR - Equipment Identity Register) containing all valid mobile phone equipment. This may also be extended to the location of the device, usage information, access and protocol details. The assigned fixed IP address allows faster information exchange with the mobile stations directly and without a need for initial handshake.

Moreover, the mobile station comprises package switched communication ability to communicate with the network, and further comprises: a SIM card or identity chip, encryption software or chip and a GPRS modem or chip. The mobile station is arranged to receive a fixed Internet Protocol (IP) address and attach it to the SIM card or chip. The SIM card may be imprinted on or embedded directly into the body of the mobile station or modem.

The mobile station may be a dual network device which carries two SIM cards, 242a - 242b but only one fixed IP address. The device is provided with instructions to switch from one SIM card to another when necessary to maintain connectivity. The fixed IP address is either carried in both SIM cards, or can be transferred to the alternate SIM card when it is activated by the device.

The mobile station can be pre-tested in a factory or assembly plant with a SIM card inserted by connecting to the service provider network, activating the connection to the network, assigning a fixed IP address and operating the device in trial mode. The mobile station can be prepared for shipment by deactivating the connection to the service provider network and leaving the SIM card in the device still containing the fixed IP address. This is called shipping the device in sleeping mode. The mobile station arrives in the hands of the user and is switched on it will signal the network that it is ready for activation, identifying itself by means of the fixed IP address which has remained constantly in the SIM card in the device. The mobile station can be remotely activated and connected to the service provider network selected by the network or that which is profiled in the SIM card thus converting the device from sleeping mode to active mode. When the mobile station is remotely activated it will remain in constant contact with the network and the user via the back office function.

The mobile network site 120 comprises a server 121 (or several) for running applications, such as FTP server, Radius server, encryption/decryption, compression etc. The server also keeps track of assigned fixed IP addresses to the mobile stations, and customer information in a data base 124 as mentioned above. The site 120 also comprises a gateway or router 123 to manage the connections and data flowing between the server(s) and the service providers.

The site 120 also comprises a firewall 122 (or several) which contains the main rules of management of the server site and dictates the creation and management of private Fixed IP addresses in the Internet domain.

The server may be computer comprising processor(s), memory(ies), mass storage, internal and external interaction interfaces all arranged and operated in way well known for a skilled person.

The firewall is arranged to provide the rules of the interaction of the servers with the routers, the data base, the Internet, the VPNs and all other elements of the service provider site.

The firewall also acts as a first line of defense and security to all parts of the service provider site and the connections with the service providers.

According to one preferred embodiment a device is used for connecting a number of incoming analogous and/or digital data inputs to a package switched output, specially a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) based output. The device comprises:

• at least one analogous and/or digital data interface for interfacing said inputs,

• at least one SIM card, separate or imprinted or embedded.

• an instruction set memory, • a wireless transceiver,

• means for converting input data to GPRS data,

• means for encrypting output data, and

• means for compressing data.

The server comprises package operating system and standard hardware, the ability to store information about the network and mobile station. The server further comprises: a dedicated and specially instruction set package to control the data and communication parameters, a server based software for the decryption algorithms, one server based software for the decompression algorithms. The server maps a (private) network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address. Mapping the IP address to Public IP is done using a proxy server. The IP addresses can be stored in a data base 124 in the server and can be accessed by third party users. Thus, the invention differs from the above mentioned prior art, which requires creation of IP addresses at the time of connecting a device to an operator network. The server is arranged to create, when instructed, any number of private fixed Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from the Internet domain and to store them in the data base, managed by the server, ready to be mapped to the mobile stations.

Preferably, the server will store the private fixed Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in the data base in groups, allocated to users and separately from other groups allocated to other users.

Moreover, the server is arranged to control and interface to a 3rd party user to provide access to information about the network, base station and all mobile stations.

The interface provided to a 3rd party user may be via a back office management function using IP tunnelling through a Virtual Private Network, (VPN), over the Public Internet, whereby the information is provided on a web based screen. The back office management system can restrict access to the data passing through the VPN in accordance with the rules of the 3rd party user.

Preferably, the back office management function is arranged to provide information to 3rd party users concerning the status of all mobile devices, the data which is flowing through them and other available information which the function is requested to provide.

The interface provides the 3rd party user with direct control of the IP address storage, allocation, reallocation and general control of all IP addresses applicable to the users' devices wherever they may be located so that they can assign or reassign fixed IP addresses directly as they activate mobile devices and are thus fully in control of all of the devices and data handled by the network.

The server is part of the network and is arranged to manage 3rd party user VPNs and is thus the gateway to 3rd party connectivity. The client site 140 may include computer units 141 , e.g. for sending, receiving and monitoring the mobile stations. The computer unit connects to the service provider site directly through, e.g. PSTN, through the server 121 , through a WEB site at the service provider site, through controlling unit 125 or wirelessly through gateway 130, e.g. using GPRS.

Fig. 3 is a block diagram illustrating one aspect of the invention, in which a central server 301 is arranged to create and allocate IP addresses and mediate peer-to-peer connections, the IP addresses are stored in the data base managed by the server. They are provided to a router (s) 302. The router transfers the IP addresses to clients' mobile stations 303a-303d, each being provided with a unique IP address IP1-IP4. IP addressing is static and when received by the clients, they can connect directly (through the network) as if the device was on a fixed line and not wireless. The IP addresses can be assigned and reassigned by the clients from the data base via the back office management function.

Fig. 4 is a diagram of a special SIM card 400 which is profiled to carry a single fixed IP address and the APNs of more than one service provider network, 401 - 406. The SIM card may be imprinted on or embedded directly into the body of the mobile station or modem.

When the device is activated the SIM 400 finds itself connected to Operator Network no. 401 through APN no. 1. It advises the mobile network 410, or the user 420, via the back office function, attaching its fixed IP address (e.g. 10.267.843.127) to ensure secure identification. From the APN details, the network locates the area in which the device is located. If the connection does not correspond with the designated connection for that area, or for any other reason, the network will advise the SIM, 400 to seek a different Operator Network no. 404 through APN no. 4, and to connect to it. The network will simultaneously ensure that the previous connection to Network no. 401 is deactivated, and that the new connection to Network no. 404 is activated. The user will be involved in or unaware of the change depending on his level of involvement in the network management.

Preferably the user 420 will be accessed by the network and vice versa via an IP tunnelling process through a Virtual Private Network. Preferably the network will instruct the SIM to connect to a local network provider in order to avoid roaming costs and other disadvantages mentioned above.

The invention is not limited to the shown embodiments but can be varied in a number of ways without departing from the scope of the appended claims and the arrangement and the method can be implemented in various ways depending on application, functional units, needs and requirements etc.

Claims

1. A mobile communications network comprising package switched communication ability, the network comprising: one or several service providers, providing communication through one or more networks with the communications network,
- one or several mobile stations which can be connected to any of said networks, characterised in that the mobile communications network is arranged to assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol, IP, address by means of a server, which is arranged to map a network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address.
2. The network of claim 1 , wherein said IP address is created in an Internet space and is stored in a storage unit until assigned to a mobile station.
3. The network of claim 1 , wherein said IP address is assigned to a mobile station which is connected to any of the service providers connected to the network.
4. The network of claim 1 , wherein said IP address is connected to a unique identity of said mobile station and is further identified by the dedicated Access Point Node, APN, of a service provider connected to the mobile communications network.
5. The network of claim 4, wherein said unique identity is International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI, number of said mobile station and the fixed IP address is the same address across any number of service provider networks.
6. The network of claim 1 , wherein said mobile station comprises a Subscriber Identity Module, SIM, card provided with instructions for storing a fixed IP address and a network APN provided through the service provider network.
7. The network of claim 6, wherein said SIM card is separate or imprinted on or embedded directly into the body of the mobile station or modem.
8. The network of claim 1 , wherein the network maintains constant access to the said mobile station and vice versa by the fixed IP address which is constant and unchanging.
9. The network of claim 1 , wherein the network communicates with said mobile station and vice versa by the fixed IP address which is constant and unchanging in such a way that the mobile station appears to the network to be a fixed line connection.
10. The network of claim 1 , wherein said mobile station is configured to appear to the network to be a fixed line connection, thus avoiding changes to the network configuration to provide for communication with wireless devices.
1 1. A mobile station for use in a communications network, said mobile station comprising communication arrangement for package switched communication to communicate with said network, the mobile station comprising: at least one unique identity arrangement,
- at least one GPRS modem device, characterised in that said mobile station further comprises a receiver for receiving a fixed Internet Protocol, IP, address, said IP address being seamlessly mapped from a stored network IP address to the public IP address.
12. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein said unique identity arrangement is one of a Subscriber Identity Module, SIM, card or an identity chip
13. The mobile station of claim 12, wherein said SIM card is separate and inserted into a holding slot or imprinted on or embedded directly into the body of the mobile station or modem.
14. The mobile station of claim 12, wherein said IP address is used and connected to a unique identity provided by the network.
15. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein said unique identity is International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI, number of said mobile station and is used to identify the mobile station.
16. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein said IP address is used and connected to an Access point node, APN, which identifies the network.
17. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein said IP address is carried on more than one Subscriber Identity Module, SIM, card or chip.
18. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM cards or chips is distinguished by the service provider APN address which they carry.
19. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , configured to be instructed by the network to connect and/or disconnect a SIM card or chip from a service provider network through its Access point node, APN.
20. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM cards or chips are pre-tested on a service provider network then deactivated for shipment.
21. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said mobile station is pre-tested in a factory or assembly plant with a SIM card inserted by connecting to the service provider network, activating the connection to the network, assigning a fixed IP address and operating the device in trial mode.
22. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM cards or chips is provided inside the device whilst still maintaining their fixed IP address.
23. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM cards or chips is provided inside the device and reactivated remotely when switched on by the ultimate user and connected to a selected service provider network.
24. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM cards or chips provide their identity and secure handshake to the network by virtue of the fixed IP address.
25. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM card or chips is profiled with more than one service provider APN address.
26. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM card or chips are configured to be instructed by the network to connect to a specific service provider APN profiled in the SIM card or chip.
27. The mobile station of claim 17, wherein said SIM card or chips are configured to be instructed by the network to disconnect from a specific service provider APN profiled in the SIM card or chip.
28. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein when said mobile station arrives in the hands of the user and is switched on it will signal the network that it is ready for activation, identifying itself by means of the fixed IP address which has remained constantly in the SIM card in the device.
29. The mobile station of claim 1 1 , wherein said mobile station is remotely activated and connected to the service provider network selected by the network or that which is profiled in the SIM card thus converting the device from sleeping mode to active mode.
30. The mobile station of claim 29, wherein when said mobile station is remotely activated it remains in constant contact with the network and the user via a back office function.
31. A server for use in a communications network, the server comprising a package operating system and hardware, processing means and means for storing information about the network and mobile stations, wherein
- said processing means is configured to control data and communication parameters, said processing means is configured to identify, separate and manage connections to more than one network operator, - said processing means is configured to identify, separate and manage IP addresses from more than one network operator characterised in that said processing means is configured to provide access to information about the network and at least one base station and map a (private) network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address.
32. The server of claim 31 , wherein said mapping is done using a proxy server.
33. The server of claim 32, wherein said server is part of the network arranged as a gateway to additional connectivity.
34. An arrangement for use in a communication device comprising an information storing device for storing information, said arrangement comprising: a portion for storing an unique identity for said device and a receiver for receiving a fixed Internet Protocol, IP, address, which is mapped from a stored network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address characterised in that said arrangement is configured to be distinguished by a service provider Access point node, APN, address.
35. The arrangement of claim 34, configured to be instructed by a communication network to connect and/or disconnect said arrangement from a service provider network through its APN.
36. The arrangement of claim 34, wherein the arrangement is pre-tested on a service provider network then deactivated for shipment.
37. The arrangement of claim 34, wherein being configured to provide its identity and secure handshake to a communication network by virtue of the fixed IP address.
38. The arrangement of claim 34, being profiled with more than one service provider APN address.
39. The arrangement of claim 34, being configured to be instructed by the network to connect to a specific service provider APN profiled in said arrangement.
40. The arrangement of claim 34, being configured to be instructed by the network to disconnect from a specific service provider APN profiled in said arrangement.
41. The arrangement according to any of claims 34-41 , being one of a Subscriber Identity Module, SIM, card or a chip.
42. A method for providing package switched communication ability in a mobile communications network, the method comprising the steps of: arranging one or several mobile stations, providing communication with said mobile stations through one or several service providers, allowing a user to communicate with said mobile stations, - arranging the mobile communications network to assign said mobile stations with a fixed Internet Protocol, IP, address, which is mapped from a (private) network IP address seamlessly to the public IP address, arranging that said fixed IP address is the same across a number of service provider networks, - arranging the mobile communications network to maintain constant access to said mobile stations by reference to a fixed IP address, arranging the mobile communications network to communicate with said mobile stations to instruct them to connect to and/or disconnect from a specific service provider network through the network Access Point Node.
PCT/EP2008/065689 2007-11-15 2008-11-17 Communications network WO2009063093A3 (en)

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