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1. WO2001074109 - TRANSFERT D'INFORMATIONS D'ABONNE VERS DES RESEAUX VISITES

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

TRANSFER OF SUBSCRIBER INFORMATION TO VISITED NETWORKS

The present invention relates to communications networks, particularly but not exclusively communications networks for providing mobile telephone communication, and to methods of operating such networks.
Mobile communications as a concept embraces not only mobility of a user within his home network, but also the ability for callers to be able to communicate with that user when he has moved to, i.e. registered with, a remote network, referred to as a visited network. This is known as roaming. On a global scale, one can talk about a global mobile network comprising a multiplicity of national mobile networks interconnected by international links.
Callers dial the user's globally unique telephone number, and their calls are routed to the user's home network, where a register is kept of the current locations of all the users having telephone numbers associated with that home network, and that call is then extended to the user's visited network. This is referred to as tromboning, i.e. the call goes into the home network and out to the visited network, with attendant international call charges and extended call set up times, and it happens even when the caller is in that visited network.
Also, if a roaming user accesses a messaging service in his home network and retrieves his messages, which might be voice or multimedia format, each of these has to be transmitted in real time over international links, and could be subject to congestion.
According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of operating a communications network interconnected with a plurality of other communications networks, and preferably employing a global addressing scheme, the method comprising the steps of:
establishing
a location register wherein each entry comprises a user identifier and a respective network identifier representing the latest notification to said communications network of the location of a respective user-associated data package, and
storage for user-associated data packages currently located at said communications network;
responding to an originating call to a called user by
accessing the location register in accordance with the identity of that called user, retrieving the respective network identifier, and
performing connection set up on the basis that the destination network for the called user is that communications network which corresponds to that retrieved network identifier; and
responding to receipt from a said other communications network of a move request in respect of a specified user by
retrieving that specified user's associated data package from storage, and
sending the retrieved data package to said other communications network.
The use of the location register and the moveable data package alleviates the above described situations, as will be explained hereafter.
Preferably, the method includes the steps of connecting calls for a particular user, whose user-associated data package is currently located at said communications network, to a message recording service and recording messages, and incorporating those recorded messages within that particular user's data package.
The user's data package can be moved at a time convenient to the network operators, e.g. when there is little traffic between the home network and the visited network, and after it has been moved the user will then be able to retrieve his messages from a local storage of his data package, without involving any international links in his real time retrieval of the messages.
There may be included the step of responding to receipt from said other communications network of a message in respect of that specified user and containing location register update information by changing the respective network identifier to that for said other communications network.
Preferably, a user's data package incorporates call handling information, and including the steps of:
responding to receipt of a message in respect of that specified user and containing call handling information by storing that call handling information, and associating that specified user's identity in the location register with that stored call handling information;
and wherein the step of responding to an originating call includes
retrieving the call handling information associated with the called user, and performing connection set up in accordance with the retrieved call handling information.
There may be included the steps of:
responding to a request from a user, currently registered with said communications network as a visitor, for that visiting user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network by
accessing the location register in accordance with the identity of that visiting user, and
if there is a corresponding entry,
retrieving the respective network identifier, and
sending a move request in respect of that visiting user to the other communications network corresponding to the retrieved network identifier,
else
requesting of at least one of the other communications networks a network identifier for the other communications network currently storing that visiting user's associated data package, and upon receipt of the requested network identifier
sending a move request in respect of that visiting user to the other communications network corresponding to the received network identifier.
According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of operating a communications network interconnected with a plurality of other communications networks, at least one of said other communications networks operating in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention, the method comprising the steps of:
responding to a request from a user, currently registered with said communications network as a visitor, for that user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network by
requesting of at least one of the other communications networks a network identifier for the other communications network currently storing that visiting user's associated data package, and upon receipt of the requested network identifier
sending to the other communications network corresponding to the received network identifier a request for that user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network.

The requesting step may comprise sending a query message in respect of that visiting user to that one of said other communications networks which corresponds to the global address of that visiting user.
Alternatively or additionally, the requesting step may comprise sending a query message in respect of that visiting user to every one of said other communications networks.
There may be included the steps of retrieving instructions from a received user's data package, and in accordance with those instructions, effecting modification of each of a predetermined set of the communications networks.
Preferably, the step of effecting modification comprises generating a message and sending that message to each of said predetermined set of the communications networks which is not that communications network which performs the step of retrieving instructions.
Those instructions may comprise instructions for modifying the respective location registers by changing the respective stored network identifier to that of the network which performs the step of retrieving instructions.
Alternatively or additionally, those instructions may comprise instructions for storing call handling information and modifying the respective location registers to associate the user identity entry therein, corresponding to the received data package, with that stored call handling information.
According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a communications network arranged for interworking with a plurality of other communications networks and employing a global addressing scheme, the network comprising:
means for storing user-associated data packages, and entries each comprising a user identifier and a respective network identifier representing the latest notification to said communications network of the location of a respective said user-associated data package;
means arranged to respond to an originating call to a called user by
accessing the storing means in accordance with the identity of that called user, retrieving the respective network identifier, and performing connection set up on the basis that the destination network for the called user is that communications network which corresponds to that retrieved network identifier; and
means arranged to respond to receipt from a said other communications network of a move request in respect of a specified user by
retrieving that specified user's associated data package from storage, and
sending the retrieved data package to said other communications network.
Preferably, there is included means arranged to respond to messages, recorded by a message recording system of the network, in respect of a particular user whose data package is currently stored in said storing means by incorporating those recorded messages within that particular user's data package.
Preferably, there is included means arranged to respond to receipt from said other communications network of a message in respect of that specified user and containing location update information by changing the respective network identifier to that for said other communications network.
For the situation when a user's data package incorporates call handling information, there may be included means arranged to respond to receipt of a message in respect of that specified user and containing call handling information by storing that call handling information in the storing means in association with that specified user's identity; and said means arranged to respond to an originating call may further respond by retrieving the call handling information associated with the called user, and by performing connection set up in accordance with the retrieved call handling information.
Preferably, there is included means arranged to respond to a request from a visiting user for that visiting user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network, by
accessing the storing means in accordance with the identity of that visiting user, and if there is a corresponding entry,
retrieving the respective network identifier, and
sending a move request in respect of that visiting user to the other communications network corresponding to the retrieved network identifier,
else requesting of at least one of the other communications networks a network identifier for the other communications network currently storing that visiting user's associated data package, and upon receipt of the requested network identifier
sending a move request in respect of that visiting user to the other communications network corresponding to the received network identifier.
According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a communications network arranged for interworking with a plurality of other communications networks, at least one of said other communications networks being in accordance with the third aspect of the present invention, said communications network comprising:
means arranged to respond to a request from a user, currently registered with said communications network as a visitor, for that user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network by
requesting of at least one of the other communications networks a network identifier for the other communications network currently storing that visiting user's associated data package, and upon receipt of the requested network identifier
sending to the other communications network corresponding to the received network identifier a request for that user's associated data package to be moved to said communications network.
The request may be made of at least one of the other communications networks for said network identifier by sending a query message in respect of that visiting user to that one of said other communications networks which corresponds to the global address of that visiting user.
Alternatively or additionally, the request may be made of at least one of the other communications networks for said network identifier by sending a query message in respect of that visiting user to every one of said other communications networks.
There may included means arranged to retrieve instructions from a received user's data package, and in accordance with those instructions, to effect modification of each of a predetermined set of the communications networks.
The retrieving and modifying means may be arranged to effect said modification by generating a message and sending that message to each of said predetermined set of the communications networks other than itself.

Preferably, the retrieving and modifying means is arranged, in accordance with those instructions, to modify the respective storing means by changing the respective stored network identifier to its own network identifier.
For the situation when those instructions comprise instructions for storing call handling information, the retrieving and modifying means may be arranged to modify its associated storing means to associate that user identity entry therein, which corresponds to the received data package, with that stored call handling information.
A specific embodiment of the present invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a block diagram of some of the components of a GSM network;

Figure 2 is a block diagram of some of the components of a network according to the present invention;
Figure 3 is a block diagram of part of the network of Figure 2.
In Figure 1 , there is shown a GSM network 10 constituted by four subsystems, namely, Mobile Station Subsystem (MSS) 1 2, Base Station Subsystem (BSS) 14, Network and Switching Subsystem (NSS) 1 6 and Operation Subsystem (OSS) 1 8. The GSM system is well known to the skilled person in the art and will not be described in detail. However, should any reader require more information, he will find a number of publications on GSM, particularly, "The GSM System for Mobile Communications" by M. Mouly and M.-B. Pautet, published 1 992 by the authors.
The MSS 12 comprises a plurality of conventional mobile stations 20, also referred to as mobile telephones, or just mobiles.
The BSS 14 comprises a plurality of base transceiver stations 22 and a plurality of base station controllers 24, only one which is shown. Each of the base station controllers 24 is connected to the NSS 1 6 and to a plurality of the base transceiver stations 22.
The NSS 16 comprises an exchange system 26 and user and terminal equipment databases 28. The exchange system 26 comprises a plurality of interconnected mobile services switching centres 30, only one which is shown, which are connected to the user and terminal equipment databases 28.
The OSS 1 8 comprises an operation and maintenance centre 32 which is connected, via a data network 34, to the BSS 14 and the NSS 16.

The user and terminal equipment databases 28 comprise a home location register 36, a visitor location register 38 and an equipment identity register 40.
The home location register 36 is a database which contains user-specific information relevant to the provision of telecommunications services and the current location, the former identifying whether a given teleservice or bearer service can be provided for a user.
The visitor location register 38 temporarily stores subscription data for users who are normally registered with a different home GSM network and who are currently registered with the GSM network 10, i.e. under a roaming arrangement.
When a visiting user comes within the operational area of the GSM network

10 and wants to use one or more of its GSM services, he switches on his mobile telephone 20. The mobile telephone 20 performs in known manner a registration procedure in which the user's Mobile Station International ISDN number and the International Mobile Station Identity are retrieved from the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card in the mobile telephone 20. From this information, the user's home GSM network is ascertained, and the visited network sends a message to the home network. The home network responds by accessing its home location register, retrieving a subset of that user's subscription data, and sending the retrieved subset of subscription data to the visitor location register 38 of the visited network for temporary storage. Typically, this subset contains security data for the authentication of the user.
In the existing GSM system the user can subscribe to an answering service for recording messages, e.g. Voicemail, when calls cannot be delivered to his mobile telephone, and in this case he can retrieve recorded messages by calling an access number for that service, with appropriate authentication, as is known. The messages are recorded in a Voicemail system 42 in the user's home GSM network, and should the user roam to a foreign GSM network and retrieve his messages, they have to be generated individually upon request by the user and relayed across international links to that foreign GSM network in real time during the retrieval call to the Voicemail system 42.
Figure 2 is a block schematic of a GSM network 100, which is similar to the GSM network 10. It comprises corresponding subsystems MSS 1 12, BSS 1 14, NSS 1 1 6 and OSS 1 1 8, with its components 1 20 to 134, 140 and 142, corresponding to components 20 to 34, 40 and 42 of the network of Figure 1 , and it has been modified in accordance with the present invention, as described below.
In Figure 3, there is shown user and terminal equipment databases 1 28 which is part of the NSS 1 1 6. Instead of a visitor location register there is a proxy location register (PLR) 148, and a data store 1 50 with an associated data store manager 1 52 arranged to allocate dynamically a respective memory area 1 54 of the data store 1 50 for each user currently registered with the GSM network 100, i.e. both home users and visiting users. Instead of a home location register there is an allocation register 146 of users who have been allocated mobile telephone numbers associated with that network. Thus, any GSM network 100 can ascertain from a mobile telephone number which network had allocated that number, such an allocating network is referred to as that mobile's home network, and the numbering scheme is referred to as a global addressing scheme. The PLR 148 and the data store 1 50 together constitute a storing means of the present invention.
In this embodiment, the GSM network 100 comprises a Voicemail system

142 linked to the NSS 1 1 6 and the data store manager 1 52. For each currently registered user who subscribes to the Voicemail service, relevant subscription information is recorded in a respective user-associated profile stored in the allocation register 146.
Suppose that a call attempt is made to such a currently registered user. The

NSS 1 1 6 accesses the respective user-associated profile to ascertain how that user requires the call to be handled, discovers that it is to be delivered to the Voicemail service, and connects that call to the Voicemail system 142.
In normal manner, the caller leaves a message for the called user, and this message is stored in a dynamically allocated memory area of the Voicemail system 142, and is associated with an identifier for that called user for retrieval purposes.
When the NSS 1 1 6 connects that call to the Voicemail system 142, it also alerts the data store manager 1 52, which responds by sending a retrieval request to the Voicemail system 142 in respect of that called user. When the Voicemail system 142 completes the recording process for that message, it notifies the data store manager 1 52, and sends a copy of that message. If this is the first message to be stored in the data store 1 50 for that user, the data store manager 1 52 allocates a respective memory area 1 54 and writes that message to that memory area. The data store manager 1 52 associates with that message, in known manner, a sequence identifier to aid retrieval. Subsequent messages are written to that respective memory area 1 54, and the data store manager 1 52 can create a data object comprising all the messages in that respective memory area 1 54. For the purpose of this description, such a data object is referred to as a Mobile Home (MH). Each MH is unique to its associated user.
The PLR 148 records the current location of the MHs of certain users. The GSM networks 100 might be organised such that every user has a respective MH. Alternatively, an MH might only be created upon user request, e.g. only users who roam outside their home network would require an MH, and for this case the GSM network 100 will be of a hybrid arrangement, including both a home location register and a PLR.
In one variant, the subsequent messages are written to individual memory areas 1 54, and the data store manager 152 keeps a record of all messages associated with that user. In this case, the data store manager 152 can create a single data object comprising all the messages in those individual memory areas 1 54. In another variant, the data store 1 50 and the data store manager 1 52 are replaced by a data object manager (not shown) which is arranged, upon command, to retrieve a user's messages from the Voicemail system 142 and create a data object comprising all those retrieved messages.
In a first example scenario, suppose that there are a number of interconnected GSM networks 100-1 , 100-2, 100-3, etc., providing "global" mobile communications coverage, it being understood that "global" is not being used in its literal sense, but that such coverage is widespread over the world. Each GSM network has an identifier of the major city of its country (and time zone of that country, if applicable), e.g. London (100-1 ), Tokyo (100-2), New York (100-3), etc., and for convenience the GSM networks are synonymously referred to herein by their identifier, e.g. if an MH is resident in the London GSM network 100-1 , this is alternatively stated as the MH being resident in London, or just being "in London", and, correspondingly, the associated user is said to be hosted in London. Similarly, a user who is currently registered with the London GSM network 100-1 is said to be "registered with London" or "in London" .

Suppose that a user A, who had previously been hosted in London and has his user identity "A" recorded in its PLR 148 as currently having his MH resident in London, travels to Japan and switches on his mobile telephone to register with Tokyo. Having registered with Tokyo, user A decides that he wants to retrieve his Voicemail messages, and makes a request to Tokyo for his MH to be moved to his current location.
Tokyo has a respective PLR 148 including an entry for user A, recording the current location of his MH as London. Tokyo accesses its PLR 148, ascertains that user A's MH is in London, and sends a query message to London to check that the MH is indeed in London, and then, upon receipt of a positive response from London, sends a move message commanding London to send the MH to Tokyo. In a variant, London responds to receipt of the query message by sending the MH, and the move message is omitted. The PLRs 148 are situated at the point of ingress to their respective networks so as to minimise transmission delays when responding to user requests for MHs to be moved to a remote network.
Upon receipt of that move message, London, using its data manager 1 52 will create user A's MH from the stored Voicemail messages and part of user A's profile data relating to PLR update information and send that MH to Tokyo. The PLR update information defines which networks are to be informed when an MH moves from one network to another, and in this example suppose that user A has selected his PLR update information to be "London", "Tokyo" and "New York". Thus, the PLRs in only these three networks record the current location of user A's MH. User A will select the specified networks of his PLR update information on the basis of where he expects the majority of his incoming calls to originate. However, if he does not wish to select specified networks, he can select "all" networks, but this is not as efficient.

Tokyo will retrieve the PLR update information from user A's MH and send an update message to London and New York, so that they can update the respective entries for user A in their PLR 148 by replacing "London" with "Tokyo", and will also update its own PLR 148.
User A can now access the Voicemail service, and Tokyo will provide instructions in the language corresponding to a language identifier held in the profile data in the MH. User A can retrieve his messages directly from the MH, which is currently resident in Tokyo. If the MH had remained resident in London, then the retrieval of his messages might well be affected by, e.g. transmission congestion.
If a user B, currently registered with New York, now makes a call to user A, New York refers to its PLR 148, ascertains that user A's MH is currently in Tokyo, and attempts to set up a connection with user A. If user A is available, the call is connected to user A over a single transmission link from New York to Tokyo. If user A is not available, user B can effectively leave a Voicemail message in user A's MH, for local retrieval by user A when he next accesses his Voicemail messages. Thus, any user currently registered with any of user A's update networks will be able to connect to user A over a minimum length transmission link, e.g. for a calling user C in Tokyo, the call will be a local call staying within Tokyo.
A further advantage is that if a user D in Tokyo makes a call to user A, Tokyo will access its PLR 148 to see whether there is an entry for user A, and find that user A is currently in Tokyo, so a connection can be made by means of a local call.
Suppose now a first variation where user A's PLR update information is "London" and "New York", i.e. Tokyo's PLR has not been kept up to date, so that when user A requests that his MH be moved to Tokyo, his current MH location (London) cannot be found in Tokyo's PLR 148. The same condition results for a variant Tokyo network which is not equipped with a PLR.
There are a number of options. In a first option, Tokyo ascertains by analysis of user A's telephone number the identity of his home network, and sends a query message to that home network to check that the MH is in that network. If the home network replies that it does not store that MH, then Tokyo broadcasts such a query message to all GSM networks other that the home network. Any network storing an MH for which it receives a query message will respond by sending a reply message indicating that the MH is in that network. In a second option, for finding the location of the MH in as short a time as possible, these query functions are combined and Tokyo sends a single broadcast query message to all GSM networks.
In this variation, when Tokyo receives user A's MH from London, only New

York and London will update their PLRs 148. Now, when user D makes a call to user A, Tokyo's PLR has no current location information for user A, and a standard call set up procedure is initiated in which Tokyo makes a call to user A's home network and that call is "tromboned" back to Tokyo. Not only is such a call expensive because it involves two long international routes, but also the set up time is noticeably long because of the call processing that the home network has to do. Thus, the advantage of avoiding tromboned calls is obtained when the remote network has its PLR 148 updated.
The MH can include part of the user-associated profile relating to call handling, e.g. Do Not Disturb data for blocking onward connection according to time of day, using either the time zone in which the PLR is resident or the time zone in which the MH is resident, or data for blocking onward connection on the basis of a distance threshold, using either geographic or hopcount metric. And in this case, this call handling data can be sent to each of the specified networks of a user's PLR update information and stored in the respective PLRs 148. Thus, in the above example, when user B in New York makes a call to user A in Tokyo, the New York PLR is accessed to find the current location of user A, and user A's call handling data is retrieved and analysed to see whether New York can proceed to handle the call. If the result of the analysis is that the call is not to be connected through to Tokyo, the call handling data may provide that the call be connected to New York's Voicemail system. The presence of user A's call handling data in the New York PLR is referred to as remote presence.
User A can select different call handling data for different ones of the specified networks of his PLR update information. Such differentiated remote presence may be based on network location or some other strategic factor.
Whereas the above description is based on the concept of users of GSM networks moving from one network to another, the present invention is also applicable to software agents which travel between interconnected data networks on a global scale, and such software agents constitute mobile objects of the present invention. A travelling software agent might want other software agents to be able to communicate with it, so the software agent has an associated MH, the data networks have PLRs, and when such a software agent travels to a remote network it sends for its MH to be forwarded from its previous hosting network and updates the PLRs of all or a selected set of the data networks. Thus, the term "user" as used herein includes such software agents.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words "comprise", "comprising" and the like are to be construed in an inclusive as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in the sense of "including, but not limited to".