Method and system for multicasting call notifications

Method and system for multicasting call notifications
US 20040125931A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2004/0125931 A1
(43) Pub. Date:
Archer
(54)
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR
MULTICASTING CALL NOTIFICATIONS
Jul. 1, 2004
Publication Classi?cation
(51)
Int. Cl? .......................... .. H04M 1/64; H04M 3/42;
(52)
US. Cl. .......... .. 379/201.01; 379/8811; 379/37301
(76) Inventor: Michael Archer, Dallas, TX (US)
H04M 1/00
Correspondence Address:
WorldCom, Inc.
Technology Law Department
(57)
ABSTRACT
1133 19th Street, NW.
Washington, DC 20036 (US)
(21) Appl. No.:
(22)
Filed:
A method for communication over a network, Which can be
both analog and digital includes simultaneously transmitting
10/702,190
a call noti?cation to a plurality of communication devices.
These communication devices include devices such as tele
Nov. 5, 2003
Related US. Application Data
(63)
Continuation of application No. 09/104,570, ?led on
Jun. 25, 1998, noW Pat. No. 6,683,870.
phones, pagers, computers, and voice mail systems. The
addresses (e.g., telephone numbers) are stored in a database
Which is queried based on the call noti?cation. For example,
this method can be used in a ?nd-me/folloW-me system or to
initiate a conference call.
110
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METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR MULTICASTING
CALL NOTIFICATIONS
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
[0007] The present invention relates to the groWing need
for a smooth integration of evolving telephony features With
evolving computer functionality. The lines betWeen the
technologies are becoming increasingly blurred as compa
[0001] The following US. patents and/or commonly
assigned patent applications are hereby incorporated herein
by reference:
nies from both disciplines strive to increase their market
share, and maximiZe on the global mobility. This trend to
further integrate telephones and PCs should continue as the
global market for both technologies expands. Although the
trend is clear, the trick is to integrate features Without adding
expensive equipment, aWkWard interfaces, or lesser quality.
Pat. or
Ser. No.
Filing Date
08/751,023
08/798,350
Nov. 18, 1996
Feb. 10, 1997
Issue Date
Attorney
Docket No.
VON-96-001
VON-97-004
[0008] One speci?c problem addressed by the present
invention is to ensure that call forWarding or “folloW me”
services can reach customers When not available by phone.
Current technology from the telephony standpoint, e.g.,
existing MCI One service, is restricted to standard telephone
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0002]
This invention relates generally to telecommunica
tions and speci?cally to a method and system for multicast
ing call noti?cations.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0003] Since the use of the public Internet has become
increasingly popular as one of the World’s premier sources
of communications, neW and innovative technologies have
been developed to tap into the Internet’s vast resources. This
devices. The present invention therefore provides a solution
that Will alloW existing technologies to become more ?ex
ible and ef?cient.
[0009] Another speci?c example Where the present inven
tion can be used is in “?nd-me” systems. In a ?nd-me
system, a caller calls a subscriber by dialing a single
telephone number. The service provider takes this telephone
number and consults a database Where the subscriber has
provided a number of telephone numbers (a call list) Where
he can be reached. Each of these numbers is then sequen
tially called until one of the phones is ansWered. With the
neW form of communication has sprouted numerous tech
nological innovations and services that bene?t both con
sumers and industry. One of these innovations is the trans
present invention, computers and internet telephones can be
mission of voice over the Internet.
invention relates to conferencing, Whether it be voice, data,
and/or video. The present invention provides the advantage
[0004]
In the mid to late 1970s, experiments in the trans
included in a subscriber’s call list.
[0010] Yet another speci?c application of the present
an ongoing research program sponsored by the US. Defense
of alloWing a party Who is initiating a conference to contact
one telephone number that Will automatically cause all other
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In the mid
participants to be simultaneously noti?ed.
1980s, UNIX-based Workstations Were used to conduct
[0011]
mission of voice over the Internet Were conducted as part of
regular audio/video conferencing sessions in modest quan
tities over the Internet. These experimental applications
Were extended in the late 1980s With larger scale, one-Way
multicasting of voice and video. In 1995 a small company,
VocalTec Communications Ltd., commercially introduced a
softWare package that Was capable of providing tWo Way
voice communications betWeen multi-media PCs connected
to the Internet.
[0005]
Telephony over the Internet offers users a loW cost
service that is distance and border insensitive. For the
current cost of Internet access (at loW hourly rates or
unlimited use ?at fees) the caller can hold a voice conver
sation With another PC user connected to the Internet. In the
case Where one or both ends have ?at fee connections to the
Internet, the call is free of additional charges. This makes
Internet telephony an attractive alternative to cost conscious
consumers.
[0006] Unfortunately, Internet telephony or Voice over
Internet Protocol (VOIP) suffers from a number of problems.
The voice quality across the Internet is not as good as typical
telephone toll quality and there are signi?cant delays expe
rienced during the conversation. In addition, Internet tele
phones do not have the bene?t of the plethora of added
In one aspect, the present invention provides a
method for communication over a netWork Which can be
both circuit-sWitched and packet-sWitched. In this method, a
call noti?cation is simultaneously broadcast (multicast) to a
plurality of communication devices. These communication
devices include devices such as telephones, pagers, com
puters, and voice mail systems. The addresses (e.g., tele
phone numbers) are stored in a database that is queried based
on the call noti?cation. For example, this method can be
used in a ?nd-me system or to initiate a conference call.
[0012]
In another aspect, the present invention provides a
communication system in Which a plurality of converters are
each operable to sample voice signals and create digital
packets that contain a digital representation of the voice
signals. Each converter might also create voice signals from
a digital packet. A storage device contains a database of
records each of Which includes a call list of telephone
numbers associated With each of a plurality of subscribers.
The system also includes a computer system that operates
under control of softWare. Upon receipt of a call noti?cation,
the softWare causes the computer system to query the
database to retrieve a record associated With the call noti
?cation and to multicast digital call noti?cation packets to a
services that are available through standard sWitched tele
plurality of the converters. The digital noti?cation packets
include information relating to the call list of telephone
phones.
numbers in the received record.
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
[0013] The present invention has a number of advantages
over present systems. For example, the present invention can
utilize the commonly implemented Internet Protocol (IP),
e.g., through an internet service provider (ISP), in place of
standard switching. In folloW-me systems, a multi-media
personal computer can be used as the called party’s for
Warding number. In other Words, by dialing the same tele
phone number you can communicate With the called party
through her computer.
[0014] This system reduces the Waiting time of the caller
by simultaneously ringing all numbers in a primary group of
telephone numbers. This system also reduces sWitch traf?c
for telephone companies by letting the internet service
providers (ISPs) do the routing, in effect turning the internet
service providers into mini-telephone companies. This sys
tem has all of the functionality of standard“?nd me” type
phone systems, but With the added capability of catching the
called party online anyWhere in the World as long as they are
connected to the ISP in some fashion.
[0015] An added functionality is the ability of the ISP to
notify the user’s computer if they are online and alert them
of an incoming phone call. The user could then (using a
standard multimedia computer) use a microphone and his
computer’s soundcard/speakers to complete the call using
his PC. The user could also route the call back to his primary
group if he so desired in case he missed the call initially.
[0016] For conference calling, only a single telephone
number needs to be dialed in order to initiate the call. In
commercially available systems, each participant must be
contacted individually causing the ?rst person to Wait While
each of the other people is called. Since all of the partici
pants can be contacted simultaneously by use of the inven
tion, much time can be saved.
[0017] The ?exibility and convenience of the present
invention makes it an attractive alternative or enhancement
to presently used systems.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[0018] The above features of the present invention Will be
more clearly understood from consideration of the folloWing
descriptions in connection With accompanying draWings in
Which:
[0019]
ciated that the present invention provides many applicable
inventive concepts that can be embodied in a Wide variety of
speci?c contexts. The speci?c embodiments discussed are
merely illustrative of speci?c Ways to make and use the
invention, and do not limit the scope of the invention.
[0026] The present invention Will be ?rst be described
With reference to one speci?c application, namely “folloW
me” and “?nd-me” services. The concepts Will then be
applied to other applications including conferencing. A
“folloW-me” service alloWs a subscriber to provide the
service provider With a telephone number Where the sub
scriber can be reached. The subscriber has the opportunity to
change this number as often as he Would like so that his calls
Will “folloW” him as he moves to different locations. The
service is often referred to as call forWarding.
[0027] For example, in 1991 MCI Telecommunications
Co. (MCI) began offering a FolloW Me 800 Service. This
service encompassed call forWarding of a personal 800 line.
The service differed from local call forWarding in that a
caller could contact MCI from anyWhere in the World and
change the number the 800 line Will send its calls to. The 800
number alWays stayed the same.
[0028] A similar service is a “?nd-me” service Which is
illustrated in FIG. 1. In this system 10, a caller dials a single
telephone number 12 of a called party from an initiating
telephone 14. This call is routed over the public sWitched
telephone netWork (PSTN) 18 to a sWitch 16. The call is then
routed across the PSTN 18 to a telephone associated With a
?rst number 20 in the called party’s list, Where it is either
ansWered or not ansWered. If unansWered, then the numbers
in the list are automatically dialed in sequence by the sWitch
16 until one is ansWered or forWarded to the called party’s
voice mail or pager 24. Because number dialing is sequen
tial, it can take several minutes to complete. An example of
a commercially available ?nd-me service is the MCI One
Service.
[0029] A ?rst embodiment system 110 of the present
invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. Before turning to func
tional blocks of FIG. 2, hoWever, it may be useful to provide
a quick overvieW of the concept behind this embodiment.
This embodiment of the present invention is based on
Internet Protocol (IP) based voice traf?c, Where calls are: (1)
converted from analog signal to digital signals, (2) split up
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a prior art commu
nication system;
into IP packets, (3) routed to their destination, and (4)
reassembled. In the ?rst embodiment, When an end user dials
a single ?nd-me number, the IP packets that make up the call
[0020] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a preferred embodi
ment communication system;
[0021] FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a portion of the system
of FIG. 2;
[0022]
FIG. 4 is a How chart of exemplary softWare Which
can operate on a computer system in the communication
are routed to a packet-sWitched netWork. Components
Within the netWork receive the header (call originate) and
begin to search for a telephone number at Which the person
being called Will ansWer.
[0030] As a speci?c example, assume a caller places a
phone call. This call is routed through the ordinary phone
system to a special converter Where the receiving phone
system of FIG. 2 or FIG. 6;
number is assembled into digital packet(s). These packets
[0023]
are routed to a computer system Where the receiving phone
number is extracted. The computer system queries a data
base With the phone number and the database returns all of
the numbers in the called party’s record. Each of these phone
numbers are assembled into digital packet(s) and routed to
converters Which return the call noti?cations to the ordinary
FIG. 5 is a How chart of a preferred embodiment
method of the present invention; and
[0024] FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an alternate embodi
ment communication system.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE
EMBODIMENTS
[0025]
The making and use of the various embodiments
are discussed beloW in detail. HoWever, it should be appre
phone system.
[0031] This embodiment system, unlike current ?nd-me
systems, can simultaneously multicast out IP packets
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
designed to ring all of the telephone numbers at destinations
representations. This digital sample data can then be com
in the called party’s list at once. Telephone numbers at
several locations can be grouped together to ring at once. If
any one of these locations pick up, a response IP packet is
bined With packet headers and footers in a manner consistent
sent to the packet-sWitched netWork. Upon receipt of the
response packet, the packet-sWitched netWork begins rout
ing the packets from the caller to the called party’s desti
nation.
[0032] In the preferred embodiment, the called party’s list
of telephone numbers is divided in a number of groups. If no
numbers in the primary group ansWer, the packet-sWitched
netWork can then forWard the call to the secondary group,
Which typically consists of a voice mail, or pager number.
More groups could also be included.
[0033] Referring noW to FIG. 2, a call noti?cation can be
initiated at an initiating communication device 114. The
initiating communication device 114 is typically a tele
phone. While referring to the initiating device 114 as a
telephone 114, it is understood that other devices such as
With the protocol used on packet-sWitched netWork 130.
While Internet Protocol (IP) is preferred, the precise proto
col used is not critical to the claimed invention. In general,
converter 126 may convert signals from a ?rst netWork (e. g.,
circuit-sWitched netWork 118) into a digital protocol Which
can be routed through packet-sWitched netWork 130.
[0038] FIG. 3 illustrates a simpli?ed block diagram of a
converter 126. The converter receives telephone signals
from circuit-sWitched netWork 118. These signals are pro
vided to a modem 70 and control circuitry 72. The modem
translates the signals into digital signals Which can be
handled by router 74. The control circuitry 72 utiliZes the
signaling information to generate the packet addressing
information for router 74. In the preferred embodiment,
control circuitry 72 comprises a processor based system
such as a computer or specialiZed hardWare. The control
circuitry 72 can be embedded Within router 74. The router
then provides packetiZed information to the packet-sWitched
electronic communication devices or computers can be used.
A telephone 114 can be either a land-line or cellular (analog
netWork 130.
or digital) Without deviating from the spirit of the invention.
[0039] In general the PSTN to IP-netWork gateWay (i.e.,
[0034]
converter 126) should be able to support the translation of
PCM to multiple encoding schemes to interWork With soft
Telephone 114 is connected to circuit-sWitched
communication netWork 118 in the typical manner. Acircuit
sWitched netWork is a netWork Which uses an entire tele
phone channel for every phone call, faX or data connection
and routes the call from sender to receiver as if establishing
a single end-to-end circuit. A circuit-sWitched netWork is
sometimes referred to as a traditional netWork. In the pre
ferred embodiment, netWork 118 is a POTS (plain old
telephone service) netWork. This netWork can be either a
public system (PSTN) or a private system. Alternatively,
proprietary netWorks can be used.
[0035] Circuit-sWitched netWork 118 can be either an
analog netWork, a digital netWork, or a combination of both.
An analog communication netWork is a netWork Which
transmits analog signals Without regard to their content. The
signals may represent analog data (e.g., voice) or digital data
(e.g., binary data, maybe from a modem). The analog
netWork may include ampli?ers (not shoWn) to boost the
energy in the system. Unlike analog transmission, digital
transmission is concerned With the content of the signal. A
typical digital transmission system includes repeaters (not
shoWn) Which recover the content of the signal and then
regenerate and retransmit a neW signal With the same
content.
[0036] The public sWitched telephone netWork (PSTN) is
Ware from various vendors. Alternatively, a common com
pression scheme could be used. Commercially available
products such as the WebPhone GateWay Exchange server
by Netspeak can be used to act as the bridge betWeen
conventional circuit-sWitched telephone systems and IP
based data netWorks.
[0040] Returning to FIG. 2, packet-sWitched netWork 130
comprises a plurality of digital links capable of handling
digital signals. Packet-sWitched netWork 130, sometimes
referred to as a converged netWork, combines various types
of media such as voice calls, data and streams of video onto
a single line. All these different media are chopped into
chunks of data or packets. In the preferred embodiment,
packet-sWitched netWork 130 is an Internet Protocol-based
(IP-based) netWork.
[0041] One eXample of an IP-based netWork is the public
Internet. In this conteXt, the “Internet” (uppercase “I”) is
used to connote the WorldWide collection of interconnected
netWorks that uses Internet Protocol (IP) to link a large
number of physical netWorks into a single logical netWork.
Physically, the Internet is a huge, global netWork spanning
nearly 100 countries and comprising a great number of
academic, commercial, government, and military netWorks.
the preferred circuit-sWitched communication netWork 118.
[0042] Packet-sWitched netWork 130 could also comprise
In this conteXt, the PSTN refers to the WorldWide voice
other IP-based netWorks as Well as other communication
telephone system. Once only an analog system, the heart of
most telephone netWorks today is digital. In the United
netWorks. For eXample, packet-sWitched netWork 130 could
States, most of the remaining analog lines are the ones from
comprise an internet Which is not connected to the public
Internet. In this conteXt, an “internet” (loWercase “i”) is any
homes and offices to the telephone company’s central of?ce.
collection of separate physical netWorks, interconnected by
It is not dif?cult to imagine that some day these lines Will
a common protocol, to form a single logical netWork. An
internet Would preferably, but not necessarily use Internet
Protocol. An internet Which is oWned by a single entity is
also be digital.
[0037]
The circuit-sWitched communication netWork 118
is coupled to converter 126 Which serves to convert the
telephone signals into digitiZed packets. Converter 126 can
also be referred to as a gateWay, a digitiZer or an encoder. For
sometimes referred to as an intranet. NetWork 130 can
comprise an intranet, Which is or is not connected to the
Internet.
voice communications, the conversion function Would
[0043]
include sampling the voice signals and generating digitiZed
to packet-sWitched netWork 130 and eXecutes server soft
Server processor 128 is a computer system coupled
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
Ware to perform the tasks required by the present invention.
packet-sWitched netWork 130 or through another netWork
In a ?nd-me/folloW-me system, for example, server proces
(not shoWn). The physical connection of these tWo entities is
sor 128 performs the function of taking the incoming phone
number generated at telephone 114 and querying database
138 looking up the forwarding phone numbers assigned to
not critical to the present invention.
the user. In FIG. 2, server processor 128 is represented by
a single computer. It is noted, hoWever, that the softWare
executed on server processor 128 can just as easily operate
over a number of computers Which may be physically close
together or found at remote locations many miles apart.
Accordingly, server processor 128 can comprise a number of
interlinked computers. For the purposes of this invention,
the hardWare is not critical. The emphasis, rather, is on the
functionality of that hardWare. This functionality is dis
[0050]
Database 138 is stored in a mass storage unit or
units (not shoWn) and comprises information required by
system 110. The mass storage unit is preferably a hard disk
drive or an array of hard disk drives. In a ?nd-me/folloW-me
system, for example, database 138 Will include a number of
?nd-me/folloW-me telephone numbers for each subscriber to
the system. The database 138 Will also include other sub
scriber information such as forWarding priorities and other
information. Database 138 could also store subscriber bill
ing information. Database 138 can comprise a single logical
cussed in greater detail With respect to FIG. 4.
database or a number of logically distinct databases. The
hardWare Which implements database 138 can be centraliZed
[0044]
(i.e., one or more units at a single location) or distributed
FIG. 4 is a ?oWchart of the softWare Which Will
execute on server processor 128. In Step 52, server proces
sor 128 receives one or more packets Which include an
indication of the called party. As a component on packet
sWitched netWork 130, server processor 128 has been
assigned an address, e.g., an IP address. In the case Where
the process is initiated by a telephone call, the called party’s
telephone number or subscriber number has been encoded
by a converter 126 Which sent the packet to the assigned
address.
[0045]
Server processor 128 extracts the subscriber iden
ti?cation information from the packet and queries database
138 (discussed in more detail beloW). This task is illustrated
by step 54. Database 138 stores a series of destinations
associated With each subscriber. These destinations are
returned to server processor 128.
[0046] Server processor 128 next goes through each des
tination and creates IP packets. For telephone number des
tinations, the number is encoded Within the body of the
packet and the packet is addressed for a converter 132
(discussed in more detail beloW). In the preferred embodi
(i.e., at many remote locations).
[0051] Database 138 is preferably arranged so that is can
be accessed by the subscriber at any time. For example, the
subscriber should be able to log onto the ISnternet and
change or add telephone numbers Where he can be reached.
Alternatively, the subscriber can call a telephone number
and update database 138 With the assistance of an automated
or human operator.
[0052] In the illustrated embodiment, packet-sWitched
netWork 130 is also coupled to a number of receiving
communication devices including telephones 120a and 120b
(generically 120) and computers 134a and 134b (generically
134). In general, these devices can be grouped into tWo
classes. The ?rst class, exempli?ed by computer 134,
includes digital devices. Adigital device is a device that can
utiliZe the same protocol as packet-sWitched netWork 130.
This type of device 134 can be connected directly to the
netWork 130 in a logical sense. The other class of devices is
analog devices, as exempli?ed by telephone 120. Signals
ment, a number of converters 132 can have the same IP
transmitted from an analog device require a conversion
process in order to communicate With packet-sWitched net
address. These tasks are illustrated by steps 56, 58 and 60.
Work 130, even if the underlying signals are digital signals.
[0047] Server processor 128 Will then multicast the pack
ets to each of the destinations 132, 134. Multicasting in data
[0053] In FIG. 2, computer 134b is coupled to packet
sWitched netWork 130 through modem 140, circuit-sWitched
communication netWorks refers to transmitting a message to
multiple recipients at the same time. Multicast is a one-to
be necessary When a user does not have direct access to a
many transmission similar to broadcasting, except that mul
ticasting implies sending to a list of speci?c users, Whereas
broadcasting implies sending to everybody. IP multicasting
refers to transmitting data to a group of selected users at the
same time on a TCP/IP netWork (internal, intranet or Inter
net). The information is transmitted once, and all intended
users receive it at the same time.
[0048] After multicasting the packets, server processor
128 aWaits a response from one of the destinations 132, 134.
Upon receipt of the con?rmation in step 64, server processor
netWork 136 and modem 142. This type of connection may
packet-sWitched netWork, for example a home PC. For the
purpose of this invention, computer 134b is considered a
digital device, even if modem 142 is an analog modem
because from a logical vieWpoint, computer 134b can be
assigned an IP address and communicate With other com
ponents on the netWork 130 using the same protocol. An
example of a computer 134b is a personal computer Which
includes a modem and executes a broWser (e.g., Netscape
Navigator or Microsoft Explorer) and is connected via
telephone lines to an Internet service provider.
128 terminates the connections With each of the other
destinations as illustrated by step 66. A communication
connection can then be established betWeen the telephone
[0054] Alternatively, computer device 134a or 134b could
be coupled to packet-sWitched netWork 130 through a cable
caller at telephone 114 and the called party at, for example,
tion through a T1 line, a digital subscriber line (e. g., ADSL),
telephone 120b.
or even poWer lines. This connection can be either a digital
or an analog connection.
[0049]
Returning noW to FIG. 2, the remaining elements
modem, a Wireless link (e.g., satellite or cellular), a connec
in system 110 are described. As mentioned, server processor
128 is coupled to database 138. While not illustrated, server
[0055] Converters 132a and 132b are coupled to packet
sWitched netWork 130 to convert the digital packets from
processor 128 may be coupled to database 138 through
netWork 130 into signals Which can be transmitted across
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
circuit-sWitched network 136. In the preferred embodiment,
converter 132 comprises the same elements as converter 126
and is illustrated in FIG. 3. In the preferred embodiment,
converters 126 and 132 are interchangeable depending on
Which device 114, 120, or 134 initiates the call and Where
this initiation is routed.
[0056] Circuit-sWitched netWork 136 is a netWork similar
to netWork 118. In fact, these netWorks 118 and 136 may
comprise a single netWork. In fact, When someone uses a
?nd-me/folloW-me telephone number to call a coWorker in
the same building, the netWork 118 may utiliZe the same
physical phone lines as netWork 136. Once again, the public
sWitched telephone netWork is the preferred embodiment
converters 132 and computers 134. The converters 132 Will
translate the call noti?cation and cause telephones 120 to
ring. One feature of this invention is that all of the call
numbers on the called party’s folloW-me destination list Will
ring simultaneously (Within the delays associated With the
various equipment in the system). An eXample of this step
Was described above With respect to step 62 in FIG. 4. This
provides an advantage over present commercially available
systems Which require sequential dialing.
[0063] When the called party has designated a computer
134 as a destination, the computer is noti?ed at this time to
alert the called party of an incoming phone call. If the
computer 134 is online, a message is sent to the called party
circuit-sWitched netWork.
requesting call completion. If not, the call is handled through
[0057] Analog communication devices 120 are coupled to
circuit-sWitched netWork 136. Examples of analog commu
nication devices include telephones, pagers, and cellular
toWers Which transmit to cellular phones and other equip
standard folloW-me call processing. This case is similar to a
ment. Analog communication devices cannot use the same
protocol as packet-switched netWork 130 Without some
intermediary translation (e.g., in converter 132).
[0058] The operation of the present invention Will noW be
described by providing a speci?c eXample of a service Which
could be provided. The folloWing list of procedures assumes
that standard error handling procedures are used. In the
preferred embodiment, errors are handled by standard TCP/
IP transmission level protocols. The service Would have the
busy signal at a telephone 120.
[0064] 5. The ?rst destination to ansWer initiates voice
digitiZation at the server processor 128. Upon receipt of a
pickup noti?cation, server processor 128 Will terminate the
call noti?cation to each of the other receiving devices 120,
134. An eXample of this step Was described above With
respect to steps 64 and 66 of FIG. 4. The connection can
then be commenced.
[0065]
If none of the destination devices 120, 134 respond,
following steps as illustrated by the ?oW chart of FIG. 5.
the caller can be forWarded to a secondary group of devices,
e.g., a pager or voice mail. In fact, the system can be
organiZed into as many groups of devices as desired. The
user can have the ability to program Which devices go in
[0059] 1. Using standard phone service and equipment
Which group. The system Would operate by simultaneously
114, a caller dials a called party’s ?nd-me phone number
trying all of the devices in the primary group, then, if no
ansWer is received, simultaneously trying all of the devices
in the secondary group, then, if still no ansWer is received,
simultaneously trying all of the devices in the tertiary group,
(Step 102). This telephone number may be a speci?c phone
number, either local or toll-free (e.g., 800 or 888 area code).
Alternatively, multiple subscribers can share a single tele
phone number Where each has a unique identi?cation code
Which Would be entered by the caller.
and so on. Preferably, the ?nal group includes a pager and/or
voicemail so that the caller can leave a message With the
called party.
[0060]
2. The phone call is routed to a ?nd-me server
processor 128 through a packet-switched netWork 130 (Step
[0066]
104). For example, the call may reach the Internet via an
nation Which responded to the call (Step 109). When the call
is completed by an analog device 120 (e.g., a telephone), the
digitiZed packets are reassembled by the converter 132 into
Internet Service Provider (ISP).
[0061]
3. FolloW-me server processor 128 performs a
lookup to database 138 for the called party’s designated
destination numbers (Step 106). The database 138 has been
set up beforehand by entering the TCP/IP based destination
in the called party’s pro?le. As discussed above, database
138 can be a standard database to store and retrieve phone
number lists provided by the called party. The system should
preferably support either static or dynamic addresses. In a
6. The voice packets are then routed to the desti
a voice stream on the called party’s end. When the call is
completed to a digital device 134 (e.g., a computer) the
digital device 134 itself (along With specialiZed softWare)
reassembles the packets. At this point, the call is completed
and conversation commences. In the case of a call to a
computer 134, the called party can use a microphone and
soundcard/speakers to complete the call using his PC.
static addressing scheme. each netWork interface is assigned
a unique physical address. The address may be assigned by
[0067] While described With respect to audio (e.g., voice),
the hardWare manufacturer or con?gured by the user. A
could just as easily be used. Audio, data and video telephony
dynamic addressing scheme provides a mechanism that
over packet-switched netWorks is described in greater detail
automatically assigns a physical address to a station When
the station ?rst boots. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG.
in co-pending application Ser. No. 08/751,205, Which is
2, database 138 Would include telephone numbers for tele
phones 120a and 120b and IP addresses for computers 134a
and 134b.
it is understood that data, video or combinations of all three
incorporated herein by reference.
[0068] This system reduces the Waiting time of the caller
by simultaneously ringing all numbers in each group of
number retrieved from database 138. This system also
each of the receiving communication devices 120, 134 (Step
reduces sWitch traffic for the telephone companies by letting
Internet service providers do the routing, in effect turning the
Internet service providers into mini-telephone companies.
108). In the illustrated embodiment, server processor 128
Would multicast the call noti?cation to the IP addresses of
This system has all of the functionality of standard folloW
me type phone systems, but With the added capability of
[0062]
4. Using the data identi?ed in step 3, the server
processor 128 simultaneously issues a call noti?cation to
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
catching the called party online anywhere in the World as
information entry). Alternatively, a user could call an opera
long as they are connected to the ISP in some manner.
tor (human or automated) Who enters the information in
database 138.
[0069] The invention can also utilize the “Finger the ISP”
concept; ie the ISP runs the ?nger query to determine
identify a user’s IP address and other information. For
[0077] 2. The conference call is initiated by sending a call
noti?cation to server 128 (Steps 102 and 104). This initiation
could be performed by one of the participants of the con
example, if the command “?nger [email protected]” is run, the
system Would return the user’s IP address, along With hoW
initiation could comprise calling a special telephone number
Where a customer is located. Using this command, one can
ference call or a third party such as an operator. The
long the user has been on line, and other information. It is
or calling a general number and entering a con?rmation
noted, hoWever, that many corporate ?reWalls may prevent
number (and/or passWord).
this function as a security measure.
[0070]
The present invention has thus far been described
[0078]
3. Conference server processor 128 performs a
lookup to database 138 for the called parties’ designated
With respect to a particular application, albeit one With a
destination numbers (Step 106).
number of variations. Several modi?cations, hoWever, are
[0079] 4. Server processor 128 simultaneously issues a
call noti?cation to each of the parties designated in the
contemplated Without deviating from the inventive concepts
described herein. FIG. 6 is presented to illustrate a number
of these modi?cations. All or some of these modi?cations
database (Step 108). The present invention does not limit the
communication device used by each party. Any combination
could be combined With the system shoWn in FIG. 2.
of devices could be used. For example, some participants
[0071] As a ?rst modi?cation, initiating device 114 could
be a computer as illustrated in FIG. 6. Initiating computer
could be on a land-line telephone, others on a cellular phone
and still others over a computer. As before, server processor
114 is typically a personal computer (regardless of platform,
128 multicasts the call noti?cation to the IP addresses
processor type or operating system) With a Web broWser and
Internet access. Computer 114 may alternatively comprise a
associated With each device causing all of the devices to ring
simultaneously. With calls to telephones 120, converters 132
netWork of computers (e.g., for corporate clients using a
Will translate the call noti?cation and cause telephones 120
local area netWork or other network), a multiprocessor
computer such as a Workstation, or a terminal Which only
to ring. Once again, an advantage over present commercially
available systems is attained be eliminating the requirement
alloWs access to netWork 130 (e.g., WebTV).
of sequential dialing.
[0072]
Computer 114 can be connected to the packet
[0080]
5. In this embodiment, unlike the folloW-me ser
sWitched netWork 130 in any of a number of Ways. For
vice, the ?rst destination to ansWer Will not cause the
example, the computer 114 may have a modem (analog or
digital), a cable modem, a Wireless link (e.g., satellite or
cellular), a connection through a T1 line, a digital subscriber
line (e.g., ADSL), or even the poWer lines. The computer 114
termination of the noti?cation to all other destinations.
Rather, the system Will link up each of the destinations in a
can also be connected to a netWork, for example, to a
corporate intranet Which includes a gateWay to the Internet.
[0073] FIG. 6 also illustrates some of the variations dis
cussed above but not shoWn in FIG. 2. For example, the
computer system for server processor 128 is illustrated in
three subsystems 128a, 128b, and 128c. Subsystem 128a is
coupled to subsystem 128b through packet-sWitched net
Work 130 and coupled to subsystem 128c through a separate
netWork 144. In addition, database 138 is illustrated as being
coupled to server processor 128 via packet-sWitched net
Work 130.
[0074] Finally, FIG. 6 shoWs a cellular communications
system transmit/receive toWer 146 coupled to PSTN 130 to
transmit and receive signals to and from cellular phone 120.
[0075] The present invention could also be utiliZed in
embodiments other than ?nd-me/folloW-me systems. For
example, the initiation of a teleconference could be facili
tated by use of the present invention. The folloWing list
provides the steps for such a system. The steps of FIG. 5 can
once again be folloWed.
[0076]
1. A list of the conferees of a conference call are
assembled and stored in database 138. This list Would, for
example, include telephone numbers for each person
involved in the conference. To expand the concept, any of
these numbers could be ?nd-me or folloW-me numbers as
described above. The list could be created by accessing
database 138 via computer or telephone (e.g., touch-tone
conference call (Step 109). Conference calling over a
packet-sWitched netWork, such as the Internet, is described
in greater detail in co-pending application Ser. No. 08/751,
203, Which is incorporated herein by reference.
[0081] The conference can be carried out With data, video
(real-time or not), audio, and combinations of all or some of
the three. For example, a real-time video of one of the
participants could be transmitted to all of the other partici
pants While audio from each participant is transmitted to all
of the other participants (i.e., so all participants see one
participant but hear all of the participants). Other variations
are also possible.
[0082]
While this invention has been described With ref
erence to illustrative embodiments, this description is not
intended to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modi
?cations and combinations of the illustrative embodiments,
as Well as other embodiments of the invention, Will be
apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the
description. It is therefore intended that the appended claims
encompass any such modi?cations or embodiments.
What is claimed is:
1. A method for communication over a netWork, the
method comprising the steps of:
receiving a call noti?cation; and
simultaneously transmitting the call noti?cation to a plu
rality of communication devices, Wherein at least one
of the communication devices comprises an analog
device.
Jul. 1, 2004
US 2004/0125931 A1
2. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of the
communication devices is a device selected from the group
consisting of telephones, pagers, and voice mail systems.
3. The method of claim 1 Wherein the step of receiving a
call noti?cation comprises receiving a request for a call to a
telephone number and further comprising the step of looking
up a plurality of IP addresses based on the telephone number.
4. The method of claim 3 Wherein the transmitting step
11. The system of claim 10 Wherein each of the converters
comprises:
at least one modem;
a router coupled to the modem; and
control circuitry coupled to both the modem and the
router.
12. The system of claim 10 Wherein the computer system
comprises simultaneously initiating contact With each of the
communicates With the converters through an internet.
plurality of IP addresses based on the telephone number.
13. The system of claim 12 Wherein the digital noti?cation
packets conform With Internet Protocol.
14. The system of claim 10 Wherein the computer system
comprises a plurality of interlinked computers.
15. The system of claim 10 and further comprising a
plurality of communication devices, each communication
5. The method of claim 1 Wherein at least one of the
communications devices comprises a computer device.
6. The method of claim 1 and further comprising the steps
of receiving a receipt noti?cation from one of the commu
nication devices and, in response, canceling the call noti?
cation to each of the other communication devices.
7. The method of claim 1 and further comprising the step
of establishing a communication With at least one of the
plurality of communication devices.
8. The method of claim 7 Wherein the step of establishing
a communication comprises establishing a communication
With more than one of the communication devices.
9. The method of claim 7 Wherein the communication
connection comprises an audio communication.
10. A communication system comprising:
device coupled to receive a call noti?cation from the caller
via one of the converters.
16. The system of claim 10 Wherein each converter is also
operable to create voice signals from a digital packet.
17. A communication system comprising:
means for converting voice signals into digital signal
packets containing a representation of the voice signals;
means for storing a plurality of data records, each data
record including a list of communication device
addresses associated With each of a plurality of sub
scribers;
a plurality of converters, each converter operable to
sample voice signals and create digital packets con
taining a representation of the voice signals;
a storage device containing a database of records, each
record including a call list of telephone numbers asso
ciated With each of a plurality of subscribers; and
a computer system operable under control of softWare,
Wherein upon receipt of a call noti?cation from a caller
the softWare causes the computer system to query the
database to retrieve a record associated With the call
noti?cation and simultaneously transmit digital call
noti?cation packets to a plurality of the converters, the
digital noti?cation packets including information relat
ing to the call list of telephone numbers in the received
record.
means for simultaneously transmitting digital call noti?
cation packets, the digital noti?cation packets including
information relating to the list of communication
device addresses in one of the data records; and
means for forWarding the digital call noti?cation packets
from the simultaneous transmitting means to a plurality
of communication devices, each communication device
associated With a respective one of the communication
device addresses.
18. The system of claim 17 Wherein at least some of the
communication device addresses comprise telephone num
bers.
19. The system of claim 17 Wherein at least some of the
communication device addresses comprise IP addresses.
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