US 20060153214 A1
A home networking gateway provides an interface between an HFC network and an in-home network. Full voice and data connection between the HFC network and each device in the in-home network is provided through the interface. A translator included in the home networking gateway is utilized to provide a mapping between the communication protocols used in the in-home network and the protocols used in the HFC network, eliminating the need for the in-home network to be dependent upon the HFC-specific protocols.
14. A system that provides an interface between a hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network and an in-home communications network comprising:
a home networking gateway that includes:
a translator for mapping between HFC-based communication protocols and in-home network-based protocols;
a home network interface connection module for supporting a pre-defined in-home communication protocol;
a voice telephony service connection module, coupled to the home network interface connection module, for providing communication with in-home telephony devices;
a data service connection module for providing communication with in-home data-based devices;
a communication bus coupled to each of the voice telephone service connection module, the data service connection module and the cable modem connection module for enabling communication between each module; and
a device database coupled to said home networking gateway and comprising configuration files associated with various in-home telecommunications devices.
15. The system as defined in
16. The system as defined in
17. The system as defined in
18. The system as defined in
19. The system as defined in
20. The system as defined in
21. The system as defined in
22. The system as defined in
This application claims the priority of Provisional Application No. 60/173,700, filed Dec. 30, 1999.
The present invention relates to a home networking gateway and, more particularly, to a gateway arrangement for providing internetworking functionality between an external HFC network and a network of devices within a “home” or other similar environment.
Hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks are rapidly evolving to support a variety of telecommunications services in addition to traditional broadcast-type video services. In particular, HFC networks are being utilized to provide data services, including high speed Internet access. Cable network operators are expected to be providing medium to high penetration rate telephony services in the near future.
Telecommunications services, such as plain old telephone service (POTS), can be provided through the use of a unit located on the side of a home, or in a centralized location in the residence (or business). This unit, which forms the interface between the HFC network and the telephone-based customer premise equipment (CPE) can be referred to as a “communications gateway”, or CG. The CG contains various line cards that provide an interface between the HFC network and traditional telephones, for example, using a “POTS card” located in the CG. The CG transmits and receives data over the HFC network using a particular protocol, which in a preferred embodiment is the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), using the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP) as the signaling protocol for telephony applications.
With a POTS card in place, an interface to a twisted-wire pair is provided and telephones in the residence can be used in a conventional manner, with all of the phones connected to a single twisted-wire pair connected in a bus configuration to the phone outlets throughout the building. Alternatively, “home run” wiring may be utilized, with point-to-point connections being established between a centralized location and a particular telephone outlet or set of outlets. The advantage of home run wiring is that several phone lines can easily be supported in the home, and phones in one area can be assigned one telephone number, distinct from other numbers used for phones in other areas. Multiple POTS cards are typically used to support multiple telephone lines.
At the present time, however, most homes and small businesses do not have a “home run” wiring installation, but instead use the simple bus structure that connects to the telephone network at a defined demarcation point. In some instances, a customer may desire to have a low cost basic telephone line from the local telephone company, but will also want to have additional lines supplied by an HFC network operator. In some homes, additional twisted-wire pairs will not be available. These limitations necessitate other means of interconnecting telephones or other data/telecommunications devices with the CG. In other circumstances, a twisted wire pair may be available, but the services to be provided may go beyond a single POTS line.
Since the in-home wiring may not be optimal in terms of architecture, and may also be carrying a POTS signal supplied by a telephone company, it is necessary for the HFC network operator to consider the use of alternative types of in-home communications. These types of communications can include in-home wiring networks, the provision of data over the existing telephone line (above the POTS spectrum), or using the in-home electrical power network.
The need remaining in the art is addressed by the present invention, which relates to a home networking gateway and, more particularly, to a gateway arrangement for providing internetworking functionality between an external HFC network and a network of devices within a “home” or other similar environment.
In accordance with the present invention, a home networking gateway (HNG) is used as an interface between an HFC network and the home devices and includes the capability of “discovering” the various devices attached to the in-home network. An HNG in accordance with the present invention is also used to provide for allocation of resources over the in-home network. The HNG, in combination with a translator function located in the application layer of the HNG, provides compatibility between the HFC network protocols and a variety of in-home networking protocols.
In one embodiment, the HNG as configured in accordance with the present invention, discovers in-home devices and their associated service requirements, including the type of information flow (i.e., synchronous or asynchronous) and the bandwidth consumption. For example, in the case of synchronous flow (such as transmission), bandwidth can be pre-allocated for that device.
An advantage of using a home networking gateway (HNG) is that it enables the exchange of key networking parameters over the HFC network, where the parameters may originate in many diverse in-home networks. In particular, the HNG allows for devices in the home to communicate over the HFC network without requiring them to have specific knowledge of and support for the HFC network protocols.
Various other embodiments and advantages of the present invention will become apparent during the course of the following discussion, and by reference to the accompanying drawings.
Referring now to the drawings,
As shown in
As illustrated in
In accordance with the principles of the present invention, DSP 50 emulates a pulse code modulated (PCM) highway to communicate with SLIC 36 by sending OCM-encoded data signals. SLIC 36 generates analog signals for distribution over the twisted-wire pair telephone wiring (via RJ 11 interconnect 38). In a preferred embodiment, DSP 50, via the PCM highway, communicates with in-home network interface 32 to distribute telephone signals and other signals through the home network. In this embodiment, the conversion functionality (e.g., CODEC) needed to convert the digital signal coming from DSP 50 into an analog telephone signal may be implemented in a remote device defined as a “dongle” (such as dongle 58 of
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention DNG 30 is powered locally through the customer power network or, alternatively, through the use of a battery 60 (see
As previously described, the home networking gateway can be provided with an integrated in-home network interface to provide internetworking functions between the HFC network and the home network. In a preferred embodiment, the home network is based on a communication technology defined by the Home Phoneline Network Alliance (HomePNA) with the home network interface serving as a HomePNA base station. The HomePNA technology facilitates data communication over existing customer premises telephone wires by multiplexing data carried over Home PNA with voice signals and xDSL signals. The HomePNA technology uses the frequency band above 2 MHz. The connection to the HomePNA network utilizes an RJ 11 port 62 attached to the (in-home) HomePNA network interface 32 (see
In an alternative embodiment, the home network is formed by using the home electrical power line network. In this embodiment, voice services are delivered through the power network using communication technology overlaid on the power line. A power line network interface is then required to be implemented inside the communication gateway. The interface is also provided with an AC plug port to connect to the power line network.
In yet another-embodiment, the home network may utilize the Shared Wireless Access Protocol (SWAP) defined by the HomeRF working group as a basis to distribute voice services to various telephone devices inside the subscriber home. Other services, such as video and data services, can also be provided through the HomeRF SWAP home network. The HomeRF SWAP is designed to carry both voice and data traffic in the 2.4 GHz band using frequency hopping spread spectrum technology. The SWAP interface inside the HNG is connected via an antenna 64 to (SWAP-based) in-home network interface 32.
HNG 30 can also support other home network interfaces, including a cordless telephone base station, a PCS base station, or an Infrared Data Association (IrDA) based network interface. Other network interfaces, including the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) interface and the “Bluetooth” interface can also be supported by HNG 30.
In general and in accordance with the present invention, HNG 30 includes a translator function within processor 52 that provides the ability to convert the in-home networking protocol-related information to HFC network parameters. These parameters can subsequently be used by the HFC network elements, include CMTS 12 and CMS 16. Given that the in-home networking protocols mentioned above do not have knowledge of the specific protocols used within the HFC network, the translator provides the ability to map HFC-specific messages to corresponding in-home network parameters. In the case that there are no messages in the in-home networking protocol which are equivalent to those used in the HFC network, the translator mediates between the two networks to insure that communications are established with the appropriate bandwidth and latency requirements. The translator function, as will be described in detail below, can be a process running at the application layer or, alternatively, it can be implemented as a protocol layer under the application layer and connected to both “legs” of the protocol stack.
The home networking gateway of the present invention allows for the extension of multiple-service operator (MSO)-based services delivered through the HFC network to home devices attached to a home network. While home networking technologies are typically designed for home-based applications such as audio/video distribution, home automation and computer networking, use of a home networking gateway will diversify the applications to include MSO-based services. In particular, MSO-based services includes audio/video entertainment, high-speed data access (e.g., Internet access), voice telephony, video telephony and streaming media. For these services to be widely deployed, cable requirements in terms of network manageability and Quality of Service (QoS) must be supported by the home network technology.
In a preferred embodiment, HNG 30 is provided with network management functionality including “device discovery”, configuration, and management services and resources management for insuring service quality in the home network. Device discovery can be performed using discover protocols supported by the home network. This functionality allows HNG 30 to discover the devices present in the home network. Additionally, new devices can use the discovery protocol to join the network and request services through HNG 30. HNG 30 can also use well-defined SNMP and MIB interfaces for configuring and managing the devices in the home network. In the embodiment illustrated in
In performing service management, HNG 30 controls access to MSO-based services. HNG 30 can obtain from NMS/EMS authorization and authentication information to subscribers to access services or, alternatively, by consulting its service level agreement (SLA) database 64 to see if the service is listed for the home. In this embodiment, SLA database 64 contains the services authorized in the home services by HNG 30 as well as the class of service (e.g., premium, standard or basic) with which the subscriber has signed. The service level agreement is also related to how the network resources are managed by HNG 30. As an example, data services can be delivered using different transmission rates wherein a basic class corresponds to the lower transmission rate and, therefore, also to the limited bandwidth allows for usage by the devices supporting the data services. The service level agreement also determines the QoS guaranteed for each service. In one embodiment, contention for service is resolved using a prioritization scheme based on the service level agreement. As an example, voice service may have priority over data service, which may, in return, be provided prior to distributing video signals in the home network. Alternative prioritization schemes can be used based on the SLA to allocate bandwidth or, in general, resources to devices and services.
Other functionality that can be implemented-inside the home networking gateway includes routing and bridging among in-home network-attached devices-and-service-specific metering for billing purposes. In this embodiment, the home networking gateway communicates with a centralized billing service to control service usage by time, by bytes, or by calls. Additionally, a home networking gateway formed in accordance with the present invention may use tunneling or other well-known protocols to support virtual private network (VPN) technology. In this embodiment, the home networking gateway performs service-specific privacy management, allowing for businesses to extend their network to other locations by securely transmitting the data via the HPC network.
As illustrated in
A serial bus manager (SBM) 142 provides the basic control functions to control the nodes and to manage the bus resources. A component of SSM 142, defined as the Isochronous Resource Manager (IRM), centralizes the services needed to allocate bandwidth and other isochronous resources including isochronous access to the bus for sending voice packages. The other protocols in the stack on in-home network side 134 (i.e., transaction layer, link layer, physical layer) are described in the IEEE 1394 standard and are also well-known in the art.
As further illustrated in
The call flow illustrated in
The foregoing merely illustrates various embodiments of the present invention. Those skilled in the art will be able to devise numerous arrangements which, although not explicitly shown or described herein, embody the principles of the invention and are within the spirit and scope thereof.