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Publication numberUS20090028153 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/920,389
PCT numberPCT/EP2005/011543
Publication dateJan 29, 2009
Filing dateOct 25, 2005
Priority dateMay 12, 2005
Also published asUS7566086, US20060255614
Publication number11920389, 920389, PCT/2005/11543, PCT/EP/2005/011543, PCT/EP/2005/11543, PCT/EP/5/011543, PCT/EP/5/11543, PCT/EP2005/011543, PCT/EP2005/11543, PCT/EP2005011543, PCT/EP200511543, PCT/EP5/011543, PCT/EP5/11543, PCT/EP5011543, PCT/EP511543, US 2009/0028153 A1, US 2009/028153 A1, US 20090028153 A1, US 20090028153A1, US 2009028153 A1, US 2009028153A1, US-A1-20090028153, US-A1-2009028153, US2009/0028153A1, US2009/028153A1, US20090028153 A1, US20090028153A1, US2009028153 A1, US2009028153A1
InventorsArian Koster, Eetze Arien De Boer
Original AssigneeKoninklijke Kpn N.V.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method for Transmitting Information in a Multicast Environment
US 20090028153 A1
Abstract
It is disclosed that in a multicast network environment individual information (10) can be transmitted via a barker channel (12) between a server (2) and an individual end-user device. In the case of digital television services the present invention enables, inter alia, individual information (10) that is addressed to a specific customer to appear on the television screen. This is accomplished by transmitting the individual information (10) via the barker channel (12) from a server (2) to the set-top box (5) via which the television is connected to the access infrastructure. It is also disclosed that an identification number (11) can be added to the individual information (10). In relation to digital television services, the present invention makes use of the insight that set-top boxes already are provided with a unique code. As a result of this, the adding to the individual information (10) of an identification number (11) that is related to the unique code of a specific set-top box (5) enables to individually address set-top boxes.
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Claims(17)
1: A method for transmitting individual information from a server to an end-user device, the server being connected to a network and a customer environment being connected to the network by means of an access infrastructure, comprising the steps of:
transmitting by the server the individual information via a barker channel to said end-user device; and
adding an identification number to the individual information.
2: A method according to claim 1 wherein said end-user device processes the individual information in the case that the identification number equals or is related to a unique code of said end-user device.
3: A method according to claim 1, wherein the individual information comprises an announcement informing said end-user device that information is available at server.
4: A method according to claim 1, wherein said end-user device is a set-top box.
5: A method according to claim 4 wherein the identification number corresponds to a unique code of the set-top box.
6: A method according to claim 1, wherein the access infrastructure comprises a Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM).
7: A method according to claim 1, wherein the individual information is contained in a data packet and the identification number is contained in the header field of said data packet.
8: A signal adapted for use in a barker channel between a server and an end-user device in an environment comprising a network that is connected to the server, and an access infrastructure that connects a customer environment to the network, the signal comprising individual information and an identification number.
9: A signal according to claim 8, wherein the individual information is contained in a data packet and the identification number is contained in the header of said data packet.
10: A signal according to claim 8, wherein the identification number corresponds to a unique code of said end-user device.
11: A multicast environment comprising a network that is connected to a server, an access infrastructure that connects a customer environment to the network, and means for transmitting individual information and an identification number via a barker channel between the server and an end-user device comprised by the customer environment.
12: A multicast environment according to claim 11, wherein said end-user device is a set-top box.
13: A multicast environment according to claim 11, wherein the individual information is contained in a data packet and the identification number is contained in the header field of said data packet.
14: A set-top box comprising means for reading an identification number received via a barker channel in a multicast environment between the set-top box and a server.
15: A set-top box according to claim 14, the set-top box comprising means for processing individual information received via said barker channel.
16: A server comprising means for generating individual information and an identification number, the individual information and the identification number being able to be transmitted to an end-user device via a barker channel between the server and said end-user device.
17: A server according to claim 16, wherein the individual information is contained in a data packet and the identification number is contained in the header of said data packet.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method for transmitting information to an individual end-user device in a multicast environment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Via broadband networks multi-media services are increasingly provided to customers. Examples of multi-media services are triple-play services whereby voice, Internet/data and video related services are provided. Often, triple-play service provisioning takes place in a multicast environment. Multicast is communication between a single sender and multiple receivers on a network. Typical use include the distribution of video such as video on demand. Standards are being developed to support multicasting over a TCP/IP network (such as the Internet). An example of such a standard is IP Multicast. In relation to multicast environments the problem of transmitting single messages to an individual receiver has been identified. This can be relevant in an architecture wherein a residential gateway at the customer's location is used for the interfacing between the end-user devices and the broadband network. Usually private IP-addresses have been assigned to the end-user devices, i.e. an end-user device can be addressed by means of its private IP-address by other end-user device comprised by the private domain.

However, private IP-addresses are not defined in the public domain, i.e. it is not possible from a device in the public domain to address a specific end-user device as a destination device by means of a private IP-address. This is because only public IP-addresses are defined in the public domain. So, although a public IP-address is assigned to the residential gateway, the end-user devices behind the residential gateway cannot be addressed individually because the private IP-addresses of the end-user devices are not known in the public domain. A known solution for this problem is the mechanism of port forwarding in the residential gateway. However, a drawback of this known solution is that additional configuration steps in relation to the residential gateway are required. According to another known solution a dedicated channel can de defined between the sender and a receiving end-user device. However, the amount of simultaneously active channels can then be considerably high.

AIM OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to eliminate the drawbacks of the prior art and to provide a method for transmitting information to an individual end-user device in a multicast environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is disclosed that in a multicast network environment individual information can be transmitted via a barker channel between a server and an individual end-user device. In the case of digital television services the present invention enables, inter alia, individual information that is addressed to a specific customer to appear on the television screen. This is accomplished by transmitting the individual information via the barker channel from a server to the set-top box via which the television is connected to the access infrastructure. It is also disclosed that an identification number can be added to the individual information. In relation to digital television services, the present invention makes use of the insight that set-top boxes already are provided with a unique code. As a result of this, the adding to the individual information of an identification number that is related to the unique code of a specific set-top box enables to individually address set-top boxes.

In a first aspect of the invention is disclosed that in a multicast network environment individual information can be transmitted via a barker channel to an individual end-user device. The present invention does not only apply to multicast environments; also broadcast environments or combined multicast/broadcast environments are within the scope of this invention. In the prior art a barker channel can be used for transmitting generic information to end-user devices. According to the invention it is identified that in a customer environment comprising several end-user devices private (i.e. non-public) IP addresses are used for the identification of the end-user devices. In IP related network environments this is a problem since it is not possible then to address from the public domain one specific end-user device. The scope of this invention is not limited to IP related networks; also other types of networks wherein private addressing is applied are considered.

The end-user devices referred to above can be part of a home network of a customer, although corporate local network environments are not excluded in this invention. Typically there is a broadband network to which customer network environments and corporate network environments are connected by means of an access network. Several communication services may be provided via such an infrastructure, for instance data services, Internet, voice and digital video services (Triple Play). Often in such a context the IP protocol is used combined with other communication protocols such as FTTH (fiber to the home), ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) or VDSL (very high speed digital subscriber line). An end-user device can for example be a personal computer system, a television set, a set-top box or a telephone. However, an end-user device can also be any other type of device that resides at the customer premise such as a residential gateway, a DSL modem or a set-top box.

The access infrastructure may be comprised of copper, fiber or wireless components (or a combination of these). For example, in the case of an ADSL access infrastructure the communication path between a customer premise and a public telephone exchange is partly comprised of fiber, i.e. between the public telephone exchange and the DSLAM there is fiber, while between the DSLAM and the customer premise there is copper wire. It is also possible that the access infrastructure is a mobile infrastructure enabling mobile end-user devices (such as 3G and 4G handsets) to connect to a network.

In the case of digital television services the present invention enables, inter alia, individual information addressed to a specific customer to appear on the television screen. This is accomplished by transmitting this individual information via the barker channel from a server to the set-top box via which the television is connected to the access infrastructure. Individual information in this context can for instance be data that appears on the television screen indicating that the customer has received a phone call. In the prior art it is generic information (information that is accessible to multiple users) and not individual information that can be transmitted via the barker channel. The present invention also is applicable in relation to other types of end-user devices such as (personal) computer devices, gameboxes, 3G handsets, PDA's and IP telephones. For instance, according to the present invention it may be possible to transmit individual information such as a software update to a personal computer.

According to another aspect of the invention there can be added an identification number to the individual information that is to be transmitted via the barkerchannel. In relation to digital television services, the present invention makes use of the insight that set-top boxes already are provided with a unique code. As a result of this, adding to the individual information of an identification number that is related to the unique code of a specific set-top box enables that specific set-top box to be addressed.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention an end-user device may be equipped (for instance by means of software measures) to detect the identification number that is added to individual information. In the case that the identification number equals (or is related to) the unique code of the end-user device, the end-user device will process the individual information. If, however, the identification number does not equal (or relate) to the unique code of a set-top box, then that set-top box won't process the individual information.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURE

The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will be explained by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an architecture whereby a customer environment (8) is connected to a broadband network (1).

FIG. 2 is a block diagram in which the concept of transmitting individual information to an end-user device in a multicast environment is depicted.

EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

For the purpose of teaching of the invention, preferred embodiments of the method and devices of the invention are described in the sequel. It will be apparent to the person skilled in the art that other alternative and equivalent embodiments of the invention can be conceived and reduced to practice without departing form the true spirit of the invention, the scope of the invention being limited only by the appended claims as finally granted.

FIG. 1 shows a network (1), such as a broadband network, via which services such as triple play services can be provided to customers. The network (1) can be based on any type of communication technology such as FTTH (fiber to the home), ADSL, VDSL, MPLS, or mobile communication protocols. For the provisioning of such services, a server (2) is connected to the network (1). The server (2) can for instance host a video server, although it is also possible that more than one media applications are hosted by server (2). There may also be more than one server (2) connected to the network (1) each covering a specific media service. In this embodiment the architecture is based on the IP protocol although this is not a limitation in relation to the present invention. In the architecture according to FIG. 1 there is a DSLAM (9) (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) that is connected to the network (1) and to a customer environment (8). The DSLAM (9) is in general part of an access infrastructure and may be operated by the same party that operates the network (1). Implementations of the access infrastructure between the customer environment (8) and the network (1) may be different, dependent on the technology (ADSL, VDSL, etc.) to be supported.

The DSLAM (9) takes connections from many customers and aggregates them onto a single, high-capacity connection to the network (1). A DSLAM (9) is generally flexible and able to support multiple types of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) in a single central office, and different varieties of protocol and modulation. For example, different customer environments (8) may be connected via a copper wire (xDSL) to the DSLAM (9). The DSLAM (9) may for instance support ADSL whereby the DSLAM (9) is connected to the network (1) via a fiber infrastructure. The customer environment (8) can be connected to the DSLAM (9) by means of for instance a residential gateway (3) The residential gateway (3) is network device located at the customer premise that interfaces between the home network (comprising end-user devices) and the public access network (comprising e.g. the DSLAM (9)). The residential gateway (3) may also be able to connect the end-user devices that reside at the customer location (8). End-user devices may for instance be a personal computer (4) via which data or Internet services may be provided, a television (6) that is connected to the residential gateway (3) via a set-top box (STB) (5) for the provisioning of digital and/or interactive television, and an IP telephone (7) for the provisioning of IP telephony. The provisioning of this combination of services is often called triple play.

For digital interactive television there is often a broadcast based architecture in relation to the network (1). For example, there may be 50 television channels and 100 radio channels broadcasted from the video server (which is hosted by server (2)) to the DSLAM's (9). Between the customer environment (8) and a DSLAM (9), however, there might be used a multicast mechanism instead of a broadcast mechanism. When a set-top box (5) has registered to a particular channel (one of the set of 100 television channels) this channel will be routed by the DSLAM (9) to the residential gateway to which the STB (5) is connected. Registration in a multicast environment can for instance be accomplished using the Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP).

Via a barker channel (12) that is defined between the server (2) and the STB (5) additional information can be provided to the customer. This additional information can for instance be background information relating the television program that is watched by the customer or any type of promotional information. The customer can request for the additional information but in general the same information is being broadcasted to all the customers and each customer may choose whether or not to receive the information. The barker channel (12) will provide data and system information on all content and services being broadcasted. The client derives a menu of services available on the network from the barker channel (12). Client software in the STB (5) will use the barker channel (12) to capture material regardless of the channel in which it appears. In addition to the barker channel (12), the client software will filter and capture or display content based on metadata tags attached to the content.

FIG. 2 shows a number of aspects that are part of a method according to the present invention for an architecture similar to that of FIG. 1. This method enables individual information (10) to be transmitted to an individual STB (5), i.e. information that is intended for a specific customer. This in contrary to the additional information that normally can be received by a STB (5) via a barker channel. According to an aspect of the invention individual information (10) is sent by the server (2) via the barker channel (12). In a best mode embodiment, the server (2) can add for addressing purposes an identification number (11) to the individual information (10). In general STB's already have a unique code that can be a reference for the identification code (11), i.e. the unique code can be used to address a set-top box (5). In an implementation it is for instance possible to add the unique code of the addressed STB (5) in the header field of a data packet. When a DSLAM (9) has received the individual information (10) and the corresponding identification number (11), both will be routed to every STB (5) that has registered to the barker channel (12) at an earlier stage. However, only the STB (5) with a unique code that corresponds to the identification number (11) will process the individual information (10). For this purpose an STB (5) needs to be upgraded in order to be able to handle incoming individual information (10) and a corresponding identification number (11). This upgrading is however a small software modification since STB's (5) in general already comprise mechanisms in which encryption keys are used for accessing information sent to the STB (5).

In another embodiment it may also be possible that the individual information (10) comprises an announcement to a specific customer or end-user device informing that customer or end-user device that, for instance, a message is available at server (2). After having received this announcement the customer or end-user device is able to retrieve the message from server (2). The way for retrieving the message can be according to any type of communication scheme or protocol. Not only messages can be retrieved but also any other type of information such as software updates, files and multi-media applications.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7549160 *Dec 21, 2000Jun 16, 2009Cisco Technology, Inc.Method and system for authenticated access to internet protocol (IP) multicast traffic
US20110161813 *Dec 31, 2009Jun 30, 2011Mobitv, Inc.Data measurement and feedback mechanism using an application framework
Classifications
U.S. Classification370/392
International ClassificationH04L12/28
Cooperative ClassificationH04L12/2856, B60N2/015, H04L12/289, H04L12/2859
European ClassificationB60N2/015, H04L12/28P1, H04L12/28P1D2B2, H04L12/28P1B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 4, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: KONINKLIJKE KPN N.V., NETHERLANDS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KOSTER, ARIAN;DE BOER, EETZE ARJEN;REEL/FRAME:020193/0910;SIGNING DATES FROM 20071119 TO 20071121