US 20090203331 A1
A wireless phone user registered for push-to-talk (PTT) services desires a push-to-talk session with a party on a network computer accessible via a public data network (like the Internet) that is not registered with any PTT service. The registered user enters a unique identifier, as a destination address for such computer, and a PTT server uses the unique identifier to query a Directory Service available on the public data network to obtain a PTT address for the destination computer. The PTT server then forwards or proxies the PTT request to the destination computer. As a result, the number of push-to-talk destinations available to the wireless phone user is expanded to include any number of push-to-talk enabled computers available on the Internet that are known to the Directory Service.
22. A method of establishing a push-to-talk session between an inviting user and an invited user, the improvement comprising:
when the invited user is not available to accept a push-to-talk session, the user equipment of the invited user signaling the inviting user to record a push-to-talk message.
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This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 10/302,882 filed Nov. 25, 2002, pending, entitled “Method And Apparatus For Correlating A Unique Identifier, Such As A PSTN Telephone Number, To An Internet Address To Enable Communications Over The Internet,” which is a continuation of U.S. Ser. No. 09/456,646, filed Dec. 8, 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,539,077, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 09/226,901 filed Jan. 8, 1999, now abandoned, and a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 09/092,764 filed Jun. 5, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,292,799, to which priority is claimed and which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.
This invention relates to communications services, and in particular to the extension of a wireless push-to-talk (PTT) service to include communication with any number of network computers, not registered for PTT service, but accessible by a public data network like the Internet.
Push-to-talk (PTT) service over cellular or wireless networks provides a type of half-duplex or one-way communications service between two or more users. See e.g., the Push-to-talk over Cellular (PoC) architecture, of the Open Mobile Alliance Ltd. Users often form a group, a predefined set of users, who then communicate with each other in a “point-to-multipoint” fashion. The communications are one-way: while one person (user) speaks, the other(s) listen(s). Turns to speak are generally granted on a first come, first serve basis by a user pressing a push-to-talk key or button on his/her wireless phone (or other user equipment). However, the PTT service provider may apply some type of arbitration process in order to insure “fair” access among the members of a PTT session.
Push-to-talk functionality is typically delivered across a mobile operator's private Internet Protocol (IP) data network using standard VoIP (Voice over IP) protocols, although other technology implementations are possible. In a typical IP network scenario, a mobile phone user with a push-to-talk enabled phone enters a PTT address for another mobile user who is registered for push-to-talk services and then presses the push-to-talk key on his/her mobile phone to initiate a session. In a typical scenario, the address of the destination mobile user can be based either on a mobile phone number (e.g., 1-978-555-1212) or on an Internet address in the form of a network access identifier (e.g., email@example.com). If the destination user is available, the originator receives an immediate indication that the destination user is available and the originator can begin speaking. The call originator's voice is sent through the wireless operator's private IP network to the target handset. The call connection over the operator's IP network is almost instantaneous. Initiating a push-to-talk session to a mobile/wireless user who is not available simply results in a negative response tone.
A PTT server can establish a push-to-talk session between two or more of its locally registered wireless phones or network computers. The PTT server(s) of one PTT service provider can also be configured to communicate with a known set of PTT servers of one or more other PTT service providers to enable push-to-talk sessions between two or more wireless phones or computers, each of which is registered with a different PTT service provider. What it cannot do, however, is establish a push-to-talk session with a push-to-talk enabled computer that is not registered with any operator's PTT service.
Systems and methods consistent with implementations of the present invention are provided in which a PTT service can access a Directory Service (DS), via a public data network such as the Internet. The DS contains push-to-talk addresses and associated unique identifiers for any number of network computers, accessible via the Internet, that can support push-to-talk functionality but are not registered with any PTT service. A network computer with push-to-talk functionality has its push-to-talk address recorded with the Directory Service and is assigned a unique identifier by the Directory Service.
According to one method, a wireless phone user registered for push-to-talk services with a wireless operator's PTT server initiates a push-to-talk session with an unregistered network computer by entering the network computer's unique identifier as a destination address for a push-to-talk session. The PTT server uses the unique identifier provided by the originating wireless phone user, to query the Directory Service to obtain a push-to-talk address for the destination computer and then forwards or proxies the push-to-talk request to the destination computer. As a result, the number of push-to-talk destinations available to the wireless phone user is expanded to include any number of push-to-talk enabled network computers that are known to the Directory Service. In the event that the user of the destination computer is not available to accept a push-to-talk session, the push-to-talk software running on the destination computer can be optionally configured to return a signal indicating that the caller can begin speaking a message that the computer will record in the form of a push-to-talk message, similar to a voice message, that the called party can review at a later time.
More generally, according to one implementation, a wireless phone, having PTT functionality and registered with a PTT server, sends a request for a PTT session to the PTT server. The request includes a unique identifier of a destination network computer, accessible on a public data network, having PTT functionality and not registered with a PTT server. The PTT server receives the request and sends a query for a PTT address for the destination network computer to a Directory Service accessible on the public data network. The Directory Service receives the query and returns the PTT address to the PTT server. The PTT server receives the PTT address and sends a request for a PTT session to the destination network computer.
In various method embodiments, the public data network is the Internet. The PTT address may be a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) address, which for example may be a SIP uniform resource identifier (SIP-URI) that can be resolved into an IP address and a port number for receiving PTT sessions at the network computer. As used herein, the network computer may be any of various devices accessible via a public data network, via a fixed line and/or wireless connection, which include a processor and memory and PTT functionality. For example, the network computer may be a personal computer or a hand-held device such as a Personal Digital Assistant.
In various embodiments, the unique identifier which enables PTT access to the network computer can be in the form of a fixed or variable length name or number. In select embodiments, the name or number is prefixed with a * or a # character. In a particular embodiment, the unique identifier is a telephone number in the form of an ITU-T recommended E.164 format, with a # prefix.
In an apparatus embodiment, a PTT server contains means for querying a Directory Service, accessible on a public data network, with a unique identifier to obtain a PTT address for initiating a PTT session with a destination network computer not registered with a PTT server. The means for querying may be any combination of hardware and/or software. The means for querying include means for sending a request for and in response receiving the PTT address from the Directory Service. The server also includes means for sending a PTT session request to the destination network computer and means for receiving a PTT response from the network computer. The server also includes means for accessing a user equipment registered with the PTT server, such as a wireless phone or network computer. The server includes means for receiving a request for a PTT session from the registered user equipment with the unique identifier, and means for sending the user equipment a session response.
In another embodiment, an apparatus is provided which includes a Directory Service, residing on a computer and accessible on a public data network, which contains at least one unique identifier and an associated PTT address of a network computer having PTT functionality (and which computer is) accessible on the public data network. The Directory Service may store the PTT address and associated unique identifier as one or more domain name system (DNS) resource records. The resource records may be in the format of Naming Authority Pointer (NAPTR), Service (SRV) and A (IP-address) records.
A method is also provided of establishing a push-to-talk session between an inviting user (originator) and an invited user (destination), the improvement comprising that when the invited user is not available to accept a push-to-talk session, the user equipment of the invited user signals the inviting user to record a push-to-talk message.
These and other embodiments are described in greater detail in the accompanying figures and following detailed description.
The network computers (217, 223, 224) have not registered with any PTT service provider, and are thus not otherwise accessible for inclusion in a PTT session, except as described herein by way of the Directory Service (219). By providing a PTT address to the DS (219), and being assigned an associated unique identifier, each network computer (217, 223, 224) becomes reachable to users registered with various PTT service providers in the manner described below.
In the foregoing illustrative embodiment, the network computer (217) is a personal computer connected to the Internet though either its own dedicated connection or through a shared connection accessible on a local (fixed line or wireless) network. In another embodiment, the network computer takes the form of a wireless data device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA), connected to the Internet via a wireless data network connection. As shown in
The unique identifier can take the form of a fixed or variable length number or name. Once the user of a network computer has been assigned a unique identifier by the Directory Service, the computer user can provide the unique identifier to PTT wireless phone or PTT network computer users who wish to establish push-to-talk sessions with the user's computer.
In one embodiment, the push-to-talk address takes the form of a SIP-URI that can be resolved using standard domain name system (DNS) protocols into the IP address and port number used for establishing a push-to-talk session with the destination network computer. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a commonly used protocol on the Internet that defines a standardized mechanism for establishing a communications session between two endpoints. Utilizing this form of PTT address in the provisioning process of
In one embodiment, the Directory Service is a network application server that implements Domain Name System (DNS) protocols. The Domain Name System (DNS) is a name resolution standard commonly used on the Internet that defines a protocol for provisioning and querying a network application server to obtain address information associated with a domain name. Information is retrieved from the domain name system in the form of messages that contain defined resource records. In one embodiment, the push-to-talk address of a network computer and associated unique identifier are stored in the Directory Service in the form of a DNS Naming Authority Pointer (NAPTR) resource record and associated A (IP-address) record. In another embodiment, the push-to-talk address and associated unique identifier are stored in the Directory Service in the form of a DNS Service (SRV) record and associated A record. The Directory Service may contain multiple addresses for different Internet-enabled communications services associated with a given network computer, one of which is a push-to-talk address. In one embodiment, the NAPTR resource record or SRV record containing the push-to-talk address for a network computer is provisioned with a parameter that identifies the address as being a push-to-talk address, enabling the DS to resolve a request from a PTT service provider with the associated PTT address.
Upon recognizing the destination address as belonging to an unregistered network computer, the PTT server queries the Directory Service (408) with the unique identifier using standard VoIP protocols or standard directory/database query protocols to obtain a push-to-talk address for the destination computer. The PTT server then signals the destination computer (410) to initiate a push-to-talk session at the push-to-talk address obtained from the query to the Directory Service. The destination computer responds (412) with an indication that it is available and ready to engage in a push-to-talk session with the caller. The PTT server proxies this response back to the wireless phone that originated the push-to-talk session. The caller can then begin to speak (414).
In one embodiment, each time a network computer is turned-on and its PTT application is started, the PTT application provides the Directory Service with its current IP address and port number for receiving PTT sessions. In the event that a network computer is moved to another network or in the event that the computer's IP-address and/or port is changed, the PTT application provides an updated push-to-talk address to the Directory Service.
Further details concerning push-to-talk communications systems can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,360,093 to Ross, entitled “Wireless Push-to-Talk Internet Broadcast,” issued Mar. 19, 2002, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,295,284 to Maggenti, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Providing Fair Access in a Group Communication System,” issued Sep. 25, 2001, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. An end user equipment in such systems is a hardware device (e.g., a wireless phone) with push-to-talk software used by the user. The wireless telephone may include: a speaker; a microphone; a micro-browser or a micro-client software having an Internet, intranet, or extranet address; a voice CODEC software to the micro-browser or micro-client software; and a real or virtual push-to-talk button. The telephone also includes means for sending an outgoing streaming voice data message (SVDM) from the microphone through the voice CODEC manager software. The telephone further includes means for indicating that the PTT button has been depressed, in response to a depression of the PTT button. It further includes means for sending an incoming streaming voice data message through the voice CODEC manager software to the speaker, in response to a release of the PTT button.
The PTT service provider system may include one or more servers for implementing the application level network functionality for the PTT service. This functionality includes session handling, such as SIP session origination and termination, policy enforcement for participation in group sessions, and list management operations to create, modify, retrieve and delete groups and contact lists. The PTT system may utilize an SIP/IP core which includes a number of SIP proxies and SIP registrars to provide various functions needed to support the PTT service, such as routing the SIP signaling between the PTT client and PTT server, providing discovery and resolution services, compression, authentication and authorization, maintaining the registration state and providing bill or charging information. The service provider system may further include an arbitration system to limit access to the dedicated channel, sometimes referred to as a broadcast channel, used to transmit communications from one member to other members of the group simultaneously. Typically, the arbitration system is located at a central facility or base station.
Further details concerning the Directory Service can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,539,077 to Ranalli, entitled “Method And Apparatus For Correlating A Unique Identifier, Such As A PSTN Telephone Number, To An Internet Address To Enable Communications Over The Internet” and hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The Directory Service may reside on a computer, which may be a computer server, on a public computer network such as the Internet. The computer on which the Directory Service resides may contain a database of records and associated interface modules (e.g., HTTP, LDAP, and DNS modules) with programs for accessing the database and interfacing with various communication applications that utilize the Directory Service. The DS computer may include at least one interface for receiving electronic transmissions from multiple communications systems, such as one or more of an IP-PBX, IP-CO, IP-Centrex, IP-telephone, IP-wireless phone, IP-voice mail, IP-fax, unified messaging and remote printing systems. The computer may also include a website which provides information on the database for users. The computer may include a CPU and a memory operatively connected to the CPU. The memory may contain a program, adapted to be executed by the CPU, for resolving requests to resolve a unique identifier to a PTT address.
A network address as used herein designates a destination address on a data network. It may include an Internet protocol (IP) address, an SMPT email address, a VPIM address, or any one of a variety of address protocols used on the Internet. The Internet address may also include any additional information required by a communications system to establish communication links over the Internet.
The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is defined in RFC (2543) of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The Domain Name System (DNS) is defined in RFC (1034) and RFC (1035) of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
The previous description of select embodiments is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make or use the present invention. Various modifications to these embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and thus the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown herein.