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ARRANGEMENT FOR PROVIDING REAL
TIME ACCESS TO CALL RECORDS
This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 5 08/019,512, filed on Feb. 19, 1993, now abandoned.
The invention relates to telephone systems and more 1Q particularly relates to the processing of a call record associated with a telephone call.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A telephone company typically processes telephone call 15 records periodically, e.g., once a month to generate respective telephone bills. What this means is that the telephone subscriber (in most instances) typically has to wait a month before being advised of the telephone calls that are being charged to the subscriber. 20
From time-to-time a subscriber may find after reviewing his/her telephone "bill" that a number of calls listed on the bill are improper and is most likely due to another person having access to calling information (e.g., a calling card number) associated with the subscriber. That is, the other 25 person is using such information to fraudulently charge calls to the subscriber.
Currently, a telephone subscriber may subscribe to a service which allows the subscriber to review a call record 3Q within a number of hours, e.g., 5, after the associated call has been completed. While this service allows a subscriber to detect sooner the placing of such fraudulent calls, it nevertheless provides a window (5 hours) in which fraudulent calls can occur. 35
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An advancement in the art of telecommunications is achieved by providing an arrangement which, in accordance with an aspect of the invention, allows a subscriber to access 40 a call record in real time. More particularly, a subscriber may access and review a call record while the associated call is still in progress and/or immediately after the call has been completed. Accordingly, a subscriber does not need to wait an appreciable period of time to review a call record, but 45 may review the record in the interim, i.e., during the call, and/or immediately after the call has been completed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
In the drawing:
FIG. 1 is block diagram of a telecommunications network in which the principles of the invention may be practiced;
FIG. 2 is an illustrative example of an interim call record;
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the call detail data system of 55 FIG. 1; and
FIGS. 4-8 show, in flow chart form, the programs which implement the invention in respective facilities of the telecommunications network of FIG. 1.
Turning now to FIG. 1, there is shown telecommunications network 200, which may be, for example, the AT&T public switched network, that provides a number of different 65 calling services for its subscribers, e.g., the subscriber associated with station SI and CPE (Customer Provided
Equipment) 300. In the practice of the invention, CPE 300 may include, for example, a conventional Private Branch Exchange.
Network 200 includes, inter alia, a plurality of interconnected Toll Switching (TS) offices, two of which are shown in the FIG., namely TS 105 and 110. Such toll switches may be any one of a number of different well-known types of switching equipment, such as, for example, the No. 4ESS (Electronic Switching System) commercially available from AT&T. Such toll switches are also interconnected via data link 150, which may be a part of, for example, the wellknown Common Channel Signaling network (CCS). The toll switches exchange data messages with one another via CCS network 150 in order to establish a telephone connection from an originating toll switch, e.g., TS 105, to a destination toll switch, e.g., TS 110.
Each toll switch, e.g., TS 105 or 110, may also be connected to one of a plurality of Central Offices (CO), such as CO 50 or 75, respectively. A CO is arranged to connect a calling telephone station (e.g., SI) which has dialed a particular telephone number outside of the calling area served by the CO to an associated toll switch, e.g., TS 105. A CO is also arranged to connect calls that it receives from an associated toll switch (destination switch) to a called station, e.g., station SI.
Network 200 further includes a number of centralized databases commonly referred to as Network Control Points (NCP), which are commercially available from AT&T, and which support the provision of various network 200 services, such as, for example, the well-known 800 calling service and Software Defined Network (SDN) service. Such NCPs, for example, NCP 225, are positioned at various locations within network 200 and are interconnected with the toll switches via CCS network 150 and various signal transfer points, such as Signal Transfer Point (STP) 220.
One function of an NCP is to translate a routing query, e.g., a dialed telephone number, that it receives from an originating toll switch, e.g., TS 105, into a destination telephone number specified by the business customer associated with the dialed telephone number. In a typical case, such a dialed number may be, for example, an 800 service telephone number. The NCP, in turn, returns a message containing, inter alia, the destination telephone number to the originating toll switch. The latter toll switch, in turn, generates a routing number as a function of the destination telephone number contained in the NCP message, in which the routing number identifies a destination toll switch, e.g., TS 110. The former toll switch then forwards the call, e.g., 800 service call, as well as associated calling information, such as the called and destination telephone numbers and so-called AM, to the destination toll switch via the intertoll network (represented by path 106). The destination toll switch, in turn, forwards the call to its intended destination.
In addition, the originating toll switch forms a conventional call record to track the progress of the call and inserts information relating to the call so that a billing center may determine the cost (charges) for the call. Such information includes, inter alia, (a) calling number (i.e., ANI), (b) called number, (c) destination number, if any, and (d) starting date and time for the call. The originating toll switch also inserts the duration of the call in the call record when the call is terminated. At that time the originating toll switch forwards the call record to an associated one of billing data servers 250-1 through 250-N, which in the case of TS 105 would be billing data server 250-1. (In an illustrative embodiment of the invention, a billing data server may be, for example, the
Billdats II (registered trademark of AT&T) data collector system available from AT&T.) Thereafter, the billing data server 250 forwards the call record to conventional billing center 260, which then compiles the call records that it received for a respective caller into a "telephone bill". As 5 mentioned above, a telephone bill is typically presented to a caller, or subscriber, on a periodic basis, e.g., monthly.
Since a telephone bill is received on periodic basis, a customer may find it difficult to thwart fraudulent calls charged to the customer's telephone number. The customer 10 may also find it difficult to manage the costs of such telephone calls and the manner in which the customer's telephone facilities are being used.
We address such problems by providing a mechanism which allows a telephone customer to access a call record, 15 in accord with an aspect of the invention, in real time. In addition, the mechanism also allows a telephone customer to access a telephone billing record during the time that an associated call is still in progress.
In particular, if a customer (subscriber) desires to access 20 an associated call record in real time, then we associate a first (CDDS) routing flag in an NCP 225 script for that customer, in which the NCP script contains the destination telephone number that is specified by the customer, as mentioned above. Moreover, if the customer desires to 25 access the call record while the call is in progress, then we also associate a second (interim) flag in the NCP script. Accordingly, then, a customer may, in accord with aspects of the invention, access a call record in real time and while the associated call is still in progress, respectively. (It is noted 30 that the terms "in progress" and "interim," when used in conjunction with a telephone call or associated call record, are taken to mean herein that the associated call has not yet been terminated, i.e., disconnected. In addition, the term "delivering a call record in real time" and variants of that 35 term is taken to mean that a call record is delivered to the pertinent customer when the associated call is in progress immediately after the call has been terminated.)
Specifically, assume that the telephone call discussed above is placed from station SI to an 800 service number 40 (e.g., 800-555-1234) assigned to CPE 300 and that the above-mentioned routing flags are set in the associated NCP script. Accordingly, the called customer associated with the 800 service number will be allowed to access in real time a copy of the record that is created when a call is placed to that 45 number. Thus, when TS 105 receives the call via CO 50 and thereafter receives the NCP 225 message in response to the aforementioned query, then TS 105 retains the NCP message in memory in association with the aforementioned call record. TS 105 then launches the call toward its destination 50 (i.e., CPE 300 via TS 110 and CO 75). Thereafter, when TS 105 receives an indication from the far-end (destination switch, e.g., TS 110) that the telephone call connection has been completed, then TS 105 notes that fact in the associated call record. In doing so, TS 105 checks to see if the interim 55 flag in the received NCP message is set. If it is, then TS 105 enters in the call record that the call has been connected and also enters a routing indicator (or flag) having a particular value, e.g., 999. However, since the call is in progress, i.e., the call has not yet been disconnected (terminated), TS 105 60 enters a null value in the duration field of the associated call record. TS 105 then sends the call record to its associated billing data server 250-1. As an aspect of the invention, the originating switch 105 may be arranged so that, in response to the presence of either one of the aforementioned flags, it 65 sends a request via CCS 150 to destination switch 110 requesting information that may be specific to the called
customer. Such information may include, for example, the identity of the TS 110 trunk that was used to progress the call to its destination. TS 105, responsive to receipt of the requested information, may then include the information in respective field(s) of the associated call record.
Furthermore, when the call is terminated, toll switch 105 notes that fact in the associated call record, and checks to see if the first (CDDS) flag is set in the NCP message. If it is, then TS 105 enters the fact that the call has been terminated in the call record along with the 999 routing flag. TS 105 then enters the duration of the call in the duration field and sends the call record to its associated billing data server 250-1.
In certain cases, the call may not be answered or the called telephone number may be busy. As such, TS 105 notes that condition and a billing duration of zero in the record. It also inserts the 999 routing flag if the NCP message indicates that the first flag is set. TS 105 then sends the record to billing data server 250-1. Billing data server 250-1, in response to receipt of the record, checks to see if the record contains the aforementioned 999 routing flag. If it does, then billing data server 250-1 sends a copy of the record to Call Detail Data System (CDDS) 400. CDDS 400, in turn, stores the received record in its associated memory. In addition, billing data server 250-1 checks to see if the record contains a null value for the duration. If it does, then billing data server 250-1 considers the call record to be an interim call record and discards the record. If the record contains a duration value, then billing data server 250-1 sends the record to conventional billing center 260 so that it may be processed as mentioned above.
When CDDS 400 receives a call record, it associates the record with a particular customer, e.g., CPE 300, and stores the record in a database associated with that customer. Once a call record has been stored in CDDS 400, then the associated customer, e.g, CPE 300, may obtain a copy of the record. CPE 300, more particularly, includes a particular device, e.g., portable computer, workstation, main frame, generally designated Tl which interfaces with CDDS 400 over datapath 401. The interface includes the steps of "logging onto" CDDS 400 by entering, via device Tl, a conventional login and password sequence assigned to CPE 300. When CPE 300, operating through device Tl, completes that procedure, it may then access the records stored in the CDDS 400 database associated with the CPE 300 customer.
Turning now to FIG. 2, there is shown an example of interim call record 500 that a toll switch, e.g., TS 105, stores in a memory register internal to the switch and then sends the contents of the register as a call record to its associated billing data server. Besides the information discussed above, the call record includes, inter alia, a structure code and calling code. The structure code, more particularly, defines the type of call record, e.g., 800 service, and the calling code defines specific service aspects of the call, e.g., customer defined routing. Since the record is an interim record, particular fields 501 thereof, e.g., call duration, each contain a null word, whereas field 502 contains the 999 routing flag indicating that a copy of the record is to be supplied to CDDS 400. When a call is terminated (i.e., either the calling or called party "hangs up") then TS 105 inserts the duration of the call in field 501-1 and inserts particular details relating to the associated call in the other fields 501. TS 105 then sends the call record to its associated billing data server 250, which then supplies the record to billing center 260 and CDDS 400.
Turning now to FIG. 3, there is shown a block diagram of CDDS 400 in communication with a number of billing data