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Publication numberUS20040264427 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/876,234
Publication dateDec 30, 2004
Filing dateJun 24, 2004
Priority dateJun 27, 2003
Also published asCN1813484A, CN100521811C, EP1639849A1, US7835742, US20040266436, WO2005002261A1
Publication number10876234, 876234, US 2004/0264427 A1, US 2004/264427 A1, US 20040264427 A1, US 20040264427A1, US 2004264427 A1, US 2004264427A1, US-A1-20040264427, US-A1-2004264427, US2004/0264427A1, US2004/264427A1, US20040264427 A1, US20040264427A1, US2004264427 A1, US2004264427A1
InventorsMikko Jaakkola, Henry Haverinen, Anne Huotari
Original AssigneeNokia Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Selection of connection settings
US 20040264427 A1
Abstract
The invention relates to selecting connection settings in a telecommunication system. In accordance with the method, history data is maintained, in which at least one network address is defined and also one connection setting, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address. In response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address, the history data is checked and the selection of the connection settings to be used is arranged by means of the history data.
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Claims(13)
1. A method for selecting connection settings in a wireless telecommunication system, the method comprising:
maintaining history data, in which at least one network address is defined and also at least one connection setting, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address,
checking the history data in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address,
arranging selection of the connection settings to be used by means of the history data, and
establishing a connection to a desired network address using the selected connection settings in a terminal.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein it is checked from the history data, whether a connection has previously been established through the available connection settings to the desired network address, and
at least one connection setting is selected, through which a connection has at least once been established to the desired network address.
3. A method as claimed in claim 1, storing URL identifiers of the network addresses or at least part of the URL identifiers of the network addresses into the history data.
4. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein IP addresses of the network addresses or at least part of the IP addresses of the network addresses are stored into the history data.
5. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one access point, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address, is defined in the connection settings of the history data, whereby
the history data is checked in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address through an access point, and
the selection of the access point is arranged by means of the history data.
6. A method as claimed in claim 5, wherein information about whether a connection has previously been established to the desired network address through a proposed access point is used as a criterion in an access point selection algorithm.
7. A method as claimed in claim 5, wherein an identifier of an access point offering wireless connections for the terminals of at least one wireless local area network is defined in the connection settings of the history data, whereby
the available access points and the history data associated therewith are defined in the terminal on the basis of the identifiers included in the messages received over the radio interface from the access points.
8. A method as claimed in claim 5, wherein an identifier of an edge node of at least one IP network and/or parameters required for establishing a connection to at least one edge node in the IP network is defined in the connection settings of the history data.
9. A wireless telecommunication system comprising at least one terminal and a network, wherein the wireless telecommunication system is configured to:
maintain history data, in which at least one network address is defined and also one connection setting, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address,
check the history data in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address,
select the connection settings to be used by means of the history data, and
the connection establishment is arranged to a desired network address using the selected connection settings in the terminal.
10. A wireless terminal, wherein the wireless terminal is configured to maintain history data, in which at least one network address is defined and also at least one connection setting, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address,
the wireless terminal is configured to check the history data in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address,
the wireless terminal is configured to select the connection settings to be used by means of the history data, and
the wireless terminal is configured to establish a connection to the desired network address using the selected connection settings in the terminal.
11. A wireless terminal as claimed in claim 10, wherein the wireless terminal is configured to define at least one access point, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address, in the connection settings of the history data, whereby
the wireless terminal is configured to check the history data in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address through a new access point, and
the wireless terminal is configured to select the access point by means of the history data.
12. A wireless terminal as claimed in claim 11, wherein the access point is an access point offering wireless connections to the terminal of a wireless local area network and the wireless terminal comprises means for establishing a connection to the access points of the wireless local area network, whereby
the wireless terminal is configured to define the available access points and the history data associated therewith concerning the access points on the basis of the identifiers included in the messages received over the radio interface.
13. A computer software product for controlling the wireless terminal in response to executing the program code included in the computer software product in a processor of the terminal, wherein the computer software product comprises:
a program code portion for controlling the terminal to maintain the history data, in which at least one network address is defined and also at least one connection setting, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address,
a program code portion for controlling the terminal to check the history data in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address, and
a program code portion for controlling the terminal to select the connection settings to be used by means of the history data.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to selecting connection settings and more particularly to selecting connection settings in a telecommunication system comprising a wireless access network.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] In addition to data services offered by Public Land Mobile Networks (PLMN), various wireless local area network techniques offering a broadband wireless data transmission service within a limited coverage area are developed for moving users. Examples of such techniques are the IEEE 802.11-based WLAN networks. Wireless local area networks can be used to offer data transmission services in hot spots, such as offices or airports. The wireless local area networks are frequently connected to external networks, for instance in order to enable access to the Internet. The data transmission rates offered by wireless local area networks are generally considerably higher than the data transmission rates offered in the PLMN networks. Thus, in places, where a local area network can be used, the aim is to establish a connection to the desired network address through the wireless local area network. The establishment of a connection to wireless local area networks and through them to other networks and the transfer from one network to another is, however, not always possible and has been more difficult for the user than in the PLMN networks, which are provided with a well operating roaming functionality.

[0003] Patent application publication WO 01/63843 discloses a method particularly for establishing a connection to a wireless local area network. The settings required for being connected to networks and different network resources are stored into information sets in the wireless terminal. The information sets are preferably defined separately for each network and they can be referred to as profiles. What can be stored into the information sets is WLAN-specific data, such as a network name, a channel setting, an operating mode setting and data security settings, as well as other settings, especially settings associated with the use of a TCP/IP protocol. When an access point to be used has been selected, a connection is established to the access point in accordance with the settings described in the information set included in the network name. This solution provides such an advantage that the users do not have to know which settings are required and how the settings have to be changed when establishing a connection to the network; instead the pre-stored settings can be used to establish a connection to different networks.

[0004] When the user moves to a new location, his/her terminal may be provided with several wireless local area networks. For example, a WLAN terminal may, based on scanning network names, be able to set up a list on available WLAN access points. However, several wireless local area networks are not connected to other networks or a connection to a desired network address cannot be established owing to, for instance, missing roaming agreements, in which case the connection cannot be established through the wireless local area network to the desired network address. When the user or terminal selects an access point on the basis of a network selection algorithm, a connection cannot necessarily be established through the access point to the desired network address, for instance to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) gateway of a company.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0005] It is an object of the invention to generally improve the selection of connection settings in order to achieve a more reliable connection establishment. The object of the invention is achieved with a method, a wireless telecommunication system, a terminal and a software product, characterized in what is disclosed in the independent claims. Preferred embodiments of the invention are disclosed in the dependent claims.

[0006] In accordance with the invention, history data is maintained, in which at least one network address and at least one connection setting are defined, wherein the connection setting has been used for establishing a connection to the network address. The history data is checked in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection to the desired network address. The selection of connection settings to be used is arranged using the history data. It has been observed in the invention that the history data associated with the network address can generally be maintained for any connection set defined by one or more connection settings. An example of a connection setting is an identifier identifying a WLAN access point. The arrangement according to the invention provides such an advantage that as connection settings are being selected, it is possible to pay attention to whether a connection has been established through the possible connection setting to the desired network address. When such connection settings are preferred, from which connections have previously been established to the network address, the connection establishment to the desired network address succeeds more frequently. Drawbacks occurring during unsuccessful connection establishment can thus be avoided.

[0007] In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, at least one access point, which has been used for establishing a connection to the network address, is defined in the connection settings of the history data. Then the history data is checked in response to the fact that there is a need to arrange a connection through an access point to the desired network address, and the access point is selected using the history data. It should be noted that the term access point is to be understood in a broad sense and that it may refer to a physical access device or to a logical access point. This embodiment can be applied in any roaming situation, also in situations, in which the connection responsibility of an established connection should be transferred to be carried out through another access point (handover). Since this embodiment enables to avoid or at least to reduce the choice of incorrect access points, the handover of the connection to a new access point can be carried out faster, which is particularly important for time-critical applications, such as multi-media applications.

[0008] In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, information about whether a connection has previously been established through a possible access point to the desired network address is used as a criterion in the selection algorithm of the access point. This embodiment provides such an advantage that an access point can be selected that is far better concerning other properties, for instance signal level, (according to predetermined selection conditions), through which a connection has nevertheless not previously been established to the network address.

[0009] In accordance with still another embodiment of the invention, the history data enables to check whether a connection has previously been established through the available connection settings to the desired network address. Such a check enables to select the connection settings, by means of which a connection has previously been established at least once to the desired network address. This embodiment allows avoiding completely the use of such connection settings, which have not previously been used to establish a connection to the desired network address.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] In the following the invention will be described in greater detail by means of some embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0011]FIG. 1 shows a wireless telecommunication system;

[0012]FIG. 2 illustrates a method according to an embodiment of the invention for selecting connection settings;

[0013]FIG. 3 illustrates a method according to an embodiment of the invention for maintaining history data; and

[0014]FIG. 4 illustrates a method according to an embodiment of the invention for selecting an access point.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0015] An embodiment of the invention is described in the following example system comprising a wireless local area network. However, the invention can be used for selecting one or more connection settings of any network resource, for instance for selecting one or more connection settings of a PLMN network. An example of a wireless local area network technique is a system supporting the WLAN radio interface defined in the IEEE 802.11 standards. The invention can also be applied in other types of wireless local area network techniques, for instance in Bluetooth, HiperLAN (High Performance Radio Local Area Network) or BRAN (Broadband Radio Access Network) equipment.

[0016]FIG. 1 shows a wireless telecommunication system comprising at least one terminal TE, networks NW1, NW2 comprising a wireless local area network, GSM/GPRS network NW3 and an Internet service provider network NW4. The network NW1, NW2 comprising a wireless local area network comprises wireless local area network access points AP, which operate as base stations and which can also be referred to as base stations, and an apparatus typically referred to as a portal PT, through which a connection can be arranged from a wireless local area network to other networks, such as the Internet. The portal PT may also operate as an access controller of the wireless local area network, in which case the portal PT handles some of the functions of the wireless local area network. It should be noted that any terminal equipment in the local area network may operate as the portal PT to other networks, such as a local area network IP router, a home network ADSL device or an apparatus operating as a VPN gateway. The Internet service provider network NW4 comprises an Internet access point ISP AP for connecting the connections established through the portal PT of the network NW2 to the Internet and a server S, for instance an e-mail server maintained by the service provider. Other networks may also comprise different servers S, such as an e-mail server of a company or a WWW server connected to the Internet. The access equipment (PT, ISP AP, GPRS AP) at the edge of the networks typically comprise a firewall functionality to ensure information security. The GSM/GPRS network NW3 comprises well-known network elements defined in the GSM/GPRS specifications, such as GPRS access point equipment GPRS AP connecting the GPRS network to other networks.

[0017] The terminal TE comprises memory, a user interface and a central processing unit comprising one or more processors. The terminal TE may also comprise other memory means, such as a removable IC card and/or a memory card as well as means for reading the card. For example, connection settings required in connection establishment and data required for selecting the settings can be stored in the internal and/or external memory. Typically, several connection settings are stored as alternative profiles or connection setting sets, in which case one of the connection settings must be selected when establishing a connection. The computer program codes to be executed in the central processing unit can be used to arrange the terminal TE to carry out the inventive operations, some of the embodiments thereof being illustrated below in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4. As mentioned above, the invention can also be applied in other terminals than those establishing WLAN connections. Such terminals can be arranged to carry out a method illustrated in the following as well as different embodiments thereof by executing a computer program code. It is also possible to use hardware solutions or a combination of hardware and software solutions to implement the inventive features. The terminal TE may be a multifunctional terminal, thus comprising in addition to the WLAN functionality also other data transmission properties, for instance a transceiver for communicating with the GSM/GPRS network or 3GPP system (3rd Generation Partnership Project) network and in accordance with an embodiment also means for selecting the connection settings to be used in this kind of network. The terminal TE may for example be a PDA device, a laptop computer connected to a device offering radio access (e.g. WLAN card) or a combination of a PDA device and a mobile phone.

[0018]FIG. 2 illustrates a method according to an embodiment of the invention for selecting connection settings. In this method, history data is maintained 201, in which network addresses are defined, to which a logical connection has been established. Each network address was provided with at least one connection setting, which was used when a connection is established to the network address. Maintaining the history data is illustrated in more detail in FIG. 3. Network addresses can be identified using any identifier of the network resource concerned. Typically, logical connections are established from the terminal TE to a packet-switched IP-based network, in which case the data concerning the network addresses represents IP addresses or other identifiers, from which the IP address can be defined. The invention is particularly well suited to be used for TCP/IP connections. In accordance with an embodiment, URL identifiers of the network addresses are defined to the history data. It is also possible to store only a part of the actual network address, such as the prefixes of the network addresses in IPv6 mode or the domain name of the URL identifiers of the network addresses.

[0019] When a need 202, 203 arises to establish a connection to a desired network address, the data on the available connection settings is defined 204. Data concerning the connection settings can be obtained from an external network element, from the memory of the terminal TE or from an external memory means, such as an IC card. What can be defined as available connection settings are all connection setting sets included in the terminal TE, or the external memory means, or the connection settings can be dropped, for instance, in the terminal TE, based on the currently used networks and/or services. The available connection sets can be defined also based on data received from external network elements. The process may proceed to step 204 when a need 202 arises to change valid connection settings to an already existing connection (or at least to define, whether connection settings offering a better connection are available), for example to change the access point AP to be used, or when a need 203 arises to select connection settings for a new connection.

[0020] When the method is applied for selecting access points AP of a wireless local area network according to an embodiment, the terminal TE may receive from the access points AP identifiers, which identify the access point AP or the network, to which the access point AP belongs. The process typically proceeds to step 202 when it is observed in the terminal TE, on the basis of radio measurings, that the quality of the connection offered by the currently serving access point AP is too poor based on at least one predetermined handover criterion. In turn, the process generally proceeds to step 203 when an input is received from the user concerning connection establishment to the network address selected by the user. Collecting data about WLAN access points AP can be implemented by carrying out scanning from the available networks. Scanning the access points AP is as such a basic functionality defined in the IEEE 802.11 standard, in which the TE checks the radio channels one by one by sending probe requests and by searching for probe responses. The TE sends probe request messages to local access points AP and waits for Probe response messages. In general, a Probe response message comprises a network name, to which each access point belongs.

[0021] In step 205, it is checked from the history data, whether a connection has previously been established using any one of the available connection settings to the network address of an existing connection or of a connection to be established. The check 205 can be carried out in accordance with an embodiment by searching for entries in the history data, in which the desired network address is presented. As a response, the search reveals entries, which comprise identifiers identifying a connection setting set or a set of connection setting sets, such as WLAN network names, which are compared to the identifiers obtained in step 204. What remain based on such a check are the entries in the history data concerning the available access points. Several other ways exist to store and to retrieve the history data associating the connection settings and the network addresses.

[0022] In step 206, the connection settings to be used are selected taking into account whether a connection has been established to a network address of an existing connection or of a connection to be established using the proposed connection settings. In accordance with an embodiment, the present method is applied when selecting an access point, in which case the history data can be used in an access point (handover) change algorithm or in an access point selection algorithm when establishing a new connection.

[0023] In accordance with an embodiment, the selection of such connection settings, by means of which a connection to the desired network address has not previously been established, is prevented. In accordance with another embodiment, such connection settings, through which a connection to the desired network address has not previously been established, can be selected only if such connection settings, through which a connection to the desired network address has previously been established, are not available. Such a situation may arise for instance if the history data does not show any entries to the desired network address or if the connection settings associated with the network address are not available based on the check of the available network resources performed in the terminal (for example the scanning of the access points AP in the wireless local area network). After this, using the selected connection settings, a connection can be established in step 207.

[0024] In accordance with an embodiment, for selecting the connection settings, the user is after step 205 provided with data on the available connection settings using the history data. The history data may show the user at least whether an attempt has been made to establish a connection to the desired network address through the at least one connection setting in question. The user may thus select 206 the connection settings to be used based on the connection settings shown. It is also possible that the user is requested to confirm the use of the connection settings selected by the connection setting selection algorithm included in the terminal. In accordance with still another embodiment, the user is presented with only the available connection settings, through which a connection has previously been established to the desired network address. These embodiments can be applied in embodiments applying any connection settings, for instance in the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4. It is an advantage that the user has the power to decide when connection settings are being selected and the history data can also be used when the user selects connection settings or when the proposed connection settings are being confirmed.

[0025]FIG. 3 illustrates maintaining history data in accordance with an embodiment. When a need arises to establish a connection to a particular network address, the connection settings to be used are selected in the terminal TE for instance as illustrated above and a connection establishment request is sent 301 in accordance with the connection settings. The terminal TE detects in step 302 whether the connection establishment to the desired network address has been successful.

[0026] In accordance with an embodiment, the method is applied in a wireless local area network, whereby well-known connection establishment functions of the wireless local area network can be used when establishing a logical connection between the terminal TE and the access point AP. The connection establishment request can then be sent in step 301 to the access point AP of the wireless local area network according to the network name defined in the connection settings. The failure of a connection can be detected 302 for example in response to a message determining the failure of a connection to be established to the access point AP or the failure of a connection to be established to the desired network address or in response to the fact that no response message is received to message 301. If the connection establishment fails, it is checked 303, whether the desired network address is already defined in the history data. If the network address is defined in the history data, the entry associated therewith can be removed 304. If the network address has not been defined in the history data, no changes need to be made in the history data 308. In accordance with an embodiment, it is checked if the history data includes an entry associating the selected at least one connection setting (used in step 301) with the network address, i.e. whether a connection has previously been established successfully to the desired network address by means of the connection setting. If this is the case, such an entry is removed 304, while the entries associated with other connection settings remain in the history data. When connection establishment has failed, it is possible to try to establish the connection once again using one or more alternative connection settings, meaning that the process may proceed to step 202 in FIG. 2. The history data can be stored for instance in a search table, from which the entries included in the network address to be searched can easily be found when changing the connection settings after connection establishment when selecting the connection settings.

[0027] A successful connection can be detected from a response or acknowledgement message received from the desired network address. In step 305, it is checked whether the desired network address is defined in the history data. The check can be carried out in the same way as in step 303. If the history data does not include an entry associating at least one selected connection setting with the network address, then a new entry is added 306 to the history data. If the previous entry is found in the history data, it can be updated 307 along with a new connection.

[0028] In accordance with an embodiment, a count is maintained in the history data concerning the successful connection establishments, the count being incremented in step 307. In accordance with another embodiment, time information is maintained on the successful connection establishments in the history data, in which case a time stamp can be added into the history data concerning the new connection establishment or the previous time stamp can be replaced using the time stamp of a new connection. According to still another embodiment, the history data is stored in a buffer memory, whereby the oldest entry (preferably the one associating the access point with the network address) can be removed along with the new entry. The amount of memory the history data requires can therefore be limited. Various buffer memory techniques that can be utilized for storing history data are known in the field of information technology. In practice, connections are established from the terminal TE to a fairly limited number of network addresses, in which case the terminal TE does not have to maintain a large amount of history data in order arrange a well-functioning selection of connection settings.

[0029] The use of history data associating connection settings with network addresses has above been illustrated in general. Reference has previously also been made to an embodiment, in which at least one access point is defined in the connection settings of the history data that has been used when establishing a connection to the network address. In the history data, a network address can be associated with any one of one or more connection setting sets, by which a connection has been established to the network address. The connection settings may represent any protocol layer parameters, such as the parameters of a physical layer, a transfer connection layer, a network layer, a transport layer, and/or also the parameters of higher layers. The connection settings may define the network technique to be used, such as the wireless local area network (for example WLAN or Bluetooth), GPRS data, GSM data. The connection settings may define different technology-specific parameters, such as a technology-specific identifier identifying an access point and/or a network and parameters to be used for identifying a user, such as a user identifier, information about the identification method in use (for example password identification, SIM identification (Subscriber Identity Module) or certification identification), as well as the parameters required by the identification method. For example, when a connection has been established to a certain gateway (the address of which may be the desired network address), the history data may be provided with an identification method, such as SIM identification. Later, when a connection is to be established to the same gateway, the SIM identification can automatically be selected to be used as the identification method. This embodiment provides such an advantage that the correct identification settings of the user and possibly the user identifications can easily be selected when establishing the connection. Different embodiments are described in the following in more detail, in which the history data is utilized for the selection of the access point and/or the access point settings.

[0030]FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment, in which changing the access point of an active connection is defined on the basis of the history data. A connection is established 401 from the terminal TE to the network address through the access point, which is for instance selected using the method applying the history data illustrated above. In this embodiment, the history data binds access point identifiers with network addresses, to which the connection is established through the access points defined by the identifiers. When a need is detected 402 to change the available access point, the data concerning the available access points for the terminal TE is checked 403. The available access points are compared and checked 404 to note whether a better access point than the currently serving access point is available. Then the properties of the available access points can be compared with the properties of the currently serving access point. A better access point is available, if the properties of an access point are better in accordance with the change criteria of one or more predetermined access points than the properties of the currently serving access point.

[0031] When changing an access point AP of a wireless local area network according to an embodiment, the access points AP can be compared on the basis of received access point reports and signal levels measured in the terminal TE of the signals received from different access points AP. At least the signal level is taken into account, when the available access points AP are compared. Information about the access point reports, such as the load of the access point, supported data rates and security information can also be taken into account when comparing the access points AP.

[0032] If at least one better access point is available for a terminal, it is checked 405 based on the history data, if a connection to the network address of an active connection has previously been established (at least once) there through. If this is the case, the access point is changed 406. Thus, a connection is established for the terminal to the network address through the selected new access point and the connection through the original access point is released. Connection establishment to a selected access point can be arranged using the setting data specific to the access point and/or network stored in the terminal TE. In accordance with an embodiment, a connection can be established to the access point AP of the wireless local area network by utilizing for example the information sets presented in patent publication WO 01/63843.

[0033] If, on the basis of the check 405, a connection has not been established from the proposed best access point to the network address, then the access point is not changed 407 in accordance with the method, meaning that the connection is maintained in the currently serving access point. If several access points are available on the basis of the check 404, the process may proceed in accordance with an embodiment from step 405 again to step 405 instead of step 407, thus checking the history data of the next best access point.

[0034] By means of the above-illustrated embodiment, it is possible to prevent the change of access points, if the proposed access point has not previously been used successfully to establish a connection to the network address of the connection to be transferred.

[0035] The invention can be applied in addition to the example illustrated in FIG. 4 also for changing several connections established from the terminal TE from one access point (several access points) to another. It should also be noted that the invention can be applied when selecting access points of different network techniques, for example when deciding whether to transfer from a 3GPP network to a wireless local area network or vice versa. Thus, history data can be maintained in the terminal TE for different connection and/or network types, and access points supporting other techniques too can be compared based on the history data. Thus, also the choice of network and/or connection type may be defined based on the history data.

[0036] In accordance with an embodiment deviating from FIG. 4, the connection establishment data associating the access point with the network address defined in the history data is used as a criterion in the selection algorithm of the access point, when selecting an access point for a new connection or when changing the access point of an active connection. Then access points, through which a connection has previously been established to the desired network address, can be preferred. Then again, if an access point provided with distinctly better properties (in accordance with predetermined conditions), through which access point a connection has not previously been established to the network address, said access point can be selected by means of such an algorithm.

[0037] A method for selecting an access point of a wireless local area network is presented in patent application publication WO 01/63842. In accordance with the teaching of the method, the terminal TE selects in the first step the first access point, which is provided with the best connection attributes among the available access points with the same network name as the currently serving access point. The TE also selects in the first step a second access point, which is provided with the best connection attributes among the available access points with a different network name than the currently serving access point. After this, in the second step, the connection attributes of the first access point and the second access point are compared. The connection is changed to the second access point only if the differences between the connection attributes to be compared meet the predetermined conditions. Consequently, this facilitates maintaining the connection as long as possible in the access points provided with the same network name, thus avoiding the change of the network settings. At this stage, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, what is also used as a connection criterion, when comparing the access points (in the first step and/or in the second step), in addition to other criteria such as the signal level, is the fact whether a connection has previously been established successfully through the access point to the network address of the connection in question. This criterion can alternatively be used as a pre-elimination criterion before comparing the access points.

[0038] The access point may be instead of an access point in a wireless local area network, for instance an Internet service provider access server ISP AP, an apparatus offering a circuit-switched data connection (such as a mobile switching centre) or a GPRS access point GPRS AP. Then the history data may comprise, depending on the available technology, for example a GPRS APN (Access Point Name) or a telephone number as the identifier of the access point. In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, the access point to be selected is an edge node in an IP network, for example the Internet. As described above, the terminal TE then maintains history data on the access points and the network addresses reached through said access points, for example a list of recommended IP edge nodes. This embodiment provides such an advantage that the Internet access point can be selected more reliably than before. In accordance with an embodiment, the invention is applied in a system, which supports a Mobile IP protocol. The mobile IP protocol allows the terminal TE to move from a sub-network to another and to communicate using the same IP address. With an embodiment of the invention, the access point that enables the change of connection in the system supporting mobile IP can also be selected more reliably than before.

[0039] Table 1 illustrates by way of example the history data maintained in the terminal TE.

TABLE 1
Network Network
service Access point address
WLAN Corp WLAN NW1 mail.corp.com
WLAN Corp WLAN NW1 mail.corp.com
WLAN Hotspot1 www.nokia.com
WLAN Hotspot1 www.nokia.com
WLAN StevenNet NW2 HomeServer
GPRS Corporate GPRS AP mail.corp.com
GPRS Corporate GPRS AP www.nokia.com
GPRS Public GPRS AP www.nokia.com

[0040] With reference to FIG. 1 and Table 1, an example person Steven may use the terminal TE, in which the history data according to table 1 is stored on the basis of previous connections. Steven uses the e-mail server S (mail.corp.com) of his company in the company network NW1 through a WLAN access point AP of the network NW1 (the network name of which may be Corp. WLAN NW1, for example). When the terminal TE is loaded with a large e-mail file, Steven moves away from the office and the connection offered by the wireless local area network NW1 fades substantially. However, the TE automatically transfers the connection to the GSM/GPRS network NW3 and especially to be carried out through the GPRS access point GPRS AP, since in accordance with the history data a connection has previously been established through the GPRS access point GPRS AP to the network address of the e-mail server S mail.corp.com. In another example, Steven wishes to visit the WWW page www.nokia.com while traveling in a train and to establish a connection based on the history data and the available GSM/GPRS network to said address through the GPRS access point GPRS AP (Public GPRS AP) of the operator. When the train stops at a station, a local local area network (Hot Spot1) is available, into which the TE transfers, on the basis of the history data and other criteria (for instance a higher data rate). When Steven returns home, the terminal TE changes the connection to said address to be implemented by the access point AP of the home network NW2.

[0041] As shown above, in addition to the network and access point data, the history data may include count information about the number of successful connections or other information, for example, for a selection algorithm or for establishing a connection. It is possible that several alternative connection setting sets are defined in the terminal that may be used to establish a connection to one physical access point, for instance to the access point device AP of the wireless local area network. Then, the terminal may maintain these connection setting sets as logically alternative access points and they can be separated in the history data. This embodiment allows selecting or favoring connection setting sets, by which the connection establishment has previously been successful. This embodiment may for instance complement the selection of the above-described wireless access point device on the basis of the network names. In other words, when the physical access point has been selected, it is possible to select even more detailed connection parameters, by means of which the connection is established. The parameters defined in the history data of the access point may include for instance parameters associated with identifying the user or tunneling data. The tunneling data may for instance define, whether Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunneling or some other type of tunneling of a network layer or a higher layer is used. If tunneling is used, the access point data may also include the parameters required by the tunneling, such as the address of the VPN gateway.

[0042] As an example, logical Internet access points (IAP), in which several of the above-illustrated parameters associated with the connection establishment are defined, can be stored in the Symbian operating system. When the present method is applied to these separate logical Internet access points, meaning that the Internet access points are bound to the desired network addresses, the selection of the logical Internet access point, or connection setting set, can be alleviated and the Internet access point can for instance be automatically selected, according to which a connection has previously been established to the desired network address. Thus, when establishing the application layer connection, when the target network address of the application level is known, the internet access point to be used first can be selected.

[0043] In accordance with a further embodiment of the invention, the terminal TE maintains data on the connection settings, by which no connection has been successfully established to the desired network address. This data can complement the data to be maintained on the basis of the above-described successful connections or replace them completely. Consequently, the functions described above can be utilized when selecting the connection settings, for example the WLAN access point or Internet access point, but in such a manner that the connection settings that have not previously been able to successfully establish a connection to the network address, are not selected to be used for connection establishment or they are avoided for instance in the selection algorithm of the access point (for example, using different criteria for them or by emphasizing them differently than other connection settings).

[0044] It is apparent for those skilled in the art that as technology advances the basic idea of the invention can be implemented in various ways for selecting different access points. The invention and the embodiments thereof are therefore not restricted to the examples described above but may vary within the scope of the claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification370/338
International ClassificationH04L12/28, H04L12/24, H04L12/56, H04L29/12, H04W76/02, H04W8/18
Cooperative ClassificationH04W76/02, H04L29/12783, H04W76/028, H04L29/12009, H04L41/0859, H04L61/35, H04W8/18, H04L41/0883
European ClassificationH04L61/35, H04W76/02, H04L29/12A, H04L29/12A6
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 3, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: NOKIA CORPORATION, FINLAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JAAKKOLA, MIKKO;HAVERINEN, HENRY;HUOTARI, ANNE;REEL/FRAME:015104/0239;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040727 TO 20040802