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(12) United States Patent ao) Patent No.: Us 7,395,350 Bi
de Caluwe et al. (45) Date of Patent: Jul. 1,2008
Control system for a communications network, wherein the control system contains network-control means and information-processing means. Through the quality-control means, a user may set a desired quality (UQS). Additionally, the quality-control means measures quality delivered (UQS') by the information-processing means and compares the two qualities, UQS and UQS'. By reference to a calculated comparison result, parameters are passed onto the network-control means in order to minimize a difference between the desired and delivered qualities. The quality-control means may comprise one or more user agents which may be set through the information-processing means and the communications network.
9 Claims, 1 Drawing Sheet
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CONTROL SYSTEM FOR AN IC NETWORK
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention 5 The invention relates to a control system for a communications network.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Advanced telecommunications networks are bearer oriented. A telecom operator does not know for which applica- 10 tions customers are using the communications network.
In this case and in the description below, "applications" implies the whole of hardware (PCs etc.) and software (control and application software) which customers are using for, e.g., Internet browsing, e-mail, video meetings etc. 15
The customer has an opinion on the quality of the application making use of the bearer (the network), not on the quality of the bearer itself. From the operator, however, it is expected that he will provide sufficient Technical Quality of Service (QoS) to the customer. 20
The present invention relates to a system for determining the minimum required technical QoS (TQS) in the network (bearer) on the basis of the "User-perceived" QoS (UQS) desired by the customer.
Several mechanisms for providing TQS guarantees in a 25 network are generally known. Frequently, guarantees are provided on TQS parameters, such as "bit error rate", "packet loss", "throughput bit rate" and "delay". In addition, various mechanisms are known for measuring UQS, e.g., for transmission chains comprising speech or video coders and decod- 30 ers. The known systems, however, have the drawback that any coupling between the TQS guarantees (operator) and the UQS wishes (customer) is lacking.
That coupling is hard to make and, in addition, depends on the terminal and the wishes of the customer. The customer 35 eventually observes a quality which for the major part is determined by the terminal. If there are problems with the quality, the operator is often (unjustly) blamed. The customer just wants to get "value for his money" or, in other words, a maximum overall quality-price ratio. 40
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention provides for a system, with which the quality desired by the user (UQS) may be set and maintained by 45 measuring the quality delivered (UQS') as observed by the customer, and by comparing the two, UQS and UQS', with one another and by computing, from the comparison result, minimum TQS requirements for the network. Since here it concerns the settings effected by a user on the one hand, and 50 the quality "experienced" by the user (to be measured by the system), for the execution of all this there is preferably made use of one or more user agents, i.e., software modules which are capable, in several locations of the telecommunications network and information-processing systems associated 55 therewith, "on behalf of the user", of observing and affecting specific processes. The user agent determines (computes), on the basis of the set preferences of the customer and the characteristics of the application on the one hand, the optimum settings for the application (possibly including control hard- 60 ware and software) and, on the other hand, the optimum TQS parameters for the network, so that the resulting UQS and UQS' approximate the UQS, which is set by the customer as being desired, as well as possible. Since the system measures the quality delivered (realized) (UQS') and the quality desired 65 (UQS), it will be able—provided the system is aware of the characteristic properties of the application—to determine the
most efficient network settings (TQS). The application characteristics are derived by the system—in this case the user agent—from the application. The user agents are set, from the information-processing systems, by setting software. This setting software is preferably constructed as a plug-in of the application applied by the user, e.g., a plug-in of the videoconferencing software applied by the user.
Finally, it should be noted that, the user agents may be provided with artificial-intelligence capabilities, as a result of which they need not accurately know in which way exactly the image, sound etc. presented to the users improves or deteriorates, but where the agents discover this in an iterative trial-and-error process and thus learn the setting rules for the application themselves.
By applying the invention, the operator may focus on the realization of the TQS parameters requested by way of the user agent, and is no longer held liable for unjust UQS requirements which are the result of the applications for which the user is responsible.
It is noted that some related methods are known: Brander, H. et al. "Quality of Service In Broadband Communications" describes the difference between user perceived quality and actual network quality. This difference is essential to the invention but is not part of the present invention itself. The present invention itself is the ability to automatically compute actual network quality settings based on previous and current user perceived quality parameters and then have the network implement these settings. The concept according to the invention is not disclosed. Dospisil J. et al. "Multiagent testbed for measuring multimedia presentation quality disorders" describes the possibility of measuring user perceived performance parameters based on network settings and mentions the possibility of actively controlling the network to change network settings and bring them in line with the userrequested quality. W09858474 (Ericsson) discloses a system to control quality settings in a network. It does not however address the possibility of relating user perceived quality parameters to network quality settings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention will be further explained in the following, on the basis of an exemplary embodiment, with reference to the drawing. In the drawing:
FIG. 1 shows a communications network run by a network operator, controlled by a network-control server.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The operation of the invention is further explained by reference to the accompanying FIG. 1. FIG. 1 shows a communications network 1 run by a network operator, controlled by a network-control server 2 (typically, large networks are controlled by a large number of control servers which are coupled to the network and to one another by way of a control or signaling network).
To the network 1, there are connected application terminals 3 having users 5 and 6, respectively, who may enter into connection with one another in order to exchange—under the control of application modules activated within said terminals 3—with one another, e.g., for the benefit of an IP videoconferencing session. In this connection, the (technical) QoS, TQS is controlled by the control server 2. In this exemplary implementation, there is additionally connected, to the net